Carers Australia has welcomed the Government’s $9.6 million investment into tailored respite care for culturally and linguistically diverse seniors.

These centre-based respite services will give older Australians the opportunity to participate in social group activities with other members of their community and access information on other supports they may need.

CEO of Carers Australia, Liz Callaghan, said, “Not only will this continued investment in respite services benefit older Australians, it will start to address the pressing need to improve respite opportunities for unpaid carers.”

It is estimated that between 25 and 30% of all unpaid carers in Australia are from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and a very large proportion of these will be carers of the aged.

“Carers are a critical element of the aged care system for older Australians, particularly in culturally and linguistically diverse communities, and this can only continue if carers are supported in their role with readily available respite, training, and support services,” said Ms Callaghan.

People from culturally and linguistically diverse communities can encounter many difficulties in accessing support services which meet their needs as they age. In particular, many often revert to their first language and will struggle to find services where they can engage with others who can speak the same language.

“In the absences of such services, older members of these communities can become socially isolated and rely heavily on their carers for meaningful social, recreational and therapeutic activities. This means that carers are often providing continuous care in the home for many hours every day; a circumstance which can leave them housebound, socially isolated and, in some cases, unemployed,” said Ms Callaghan.

The Aged Care Royal Commission in its Final Report called for unpaid carers to have the right to reasonable access to supports in accordance with needs and to enable reasonable enjoyment of the right to social participation.

“Continuing to fund respite centres for older Australians is a step toward redressing the current gaps in the system for both carers and those they care for. Carers will be able to take a break knowing that their loved one is looked after,” said Ms Callaghan.

We encourage the Government to expand this program over time and support other culturally and linguistically diverse specific respite opportunities. This includes access to overnight and day care in dedicated respite facilities which can give carers the opportunity for more substantial breaks.