Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Carer Payment extension to also assist parents otherwise affected by Welfare to Work reforms

Carers of children with severe intellectual, psychiatric or behavioural disabilities that result in challenging behaviour may be eligible for the Carer Payment under new measures announced today.

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, said eligibility for the Carer Payment will give more support to several thousand people, including many parents who may otherwise be affected by the Howard Government’s Welfare-to-Work changes.

“It is expected that these changes, which will take effect from July 1 2006, will benefit some parents who currently receive Parenting Payment and under the Welfare to Work package would otherwise be expected to undertake part-time work when their youngest child reaches the age of six,” Senator Patterson said.

“These changes to Carer Payment, worth about $57 million over four years, underline the Howard Government’s strong commitment to supporting the needs of carers around Australia.

“Carer Payment is an income support payment with a single rate of $476.30 per fortnight and a partnered rate of $397.70 for each person per fortnight.

“In July 1998 the Howard Government extended eligibility for Carer Payment to primary carers of children aged under 16 years who have a profound disability, a payment not available under Labor.

“We will now extend eligibility to help more people who, because of the demands of their caring role, are unable to support themselves through substantial participation in the workforce. This will include carers of children with severe intellectual, psychiatric or behavioural disabilities that may result in challenging behaviours.

“These children often require constant supervision for their safety and the safety of others. Often these children are also unable to attend school, which prevents their parents and/or carers from taking up substantial paid employment.

“I will now be consulting with medical professionals and the carer sector to finalise eligibility criteria,” Senator Patterson said.

Further aspects of the Welfare to Work package will be announced shortly.