Federal Election 2013: ‘Unpaid Carers: the necessary investment’.
In order to ensure that carers are effectively heard in the forthcoming election campaign, Carers Australia has produced an election campaign document entitled ‘Unpaid carers: the necessary investment’. This document sets out five key election commitments we believe any incoming government must adopt. In summary, these commitments are:
1. Continuation and growth of carer-specific supports
DisabilityCare Australia will not in most cases replace the need for informal care and is not primarily designed to provide supports for carers. In addition, many care recipients under the age of 65 will not be eligible for supports under DisabilityCare Australia. Government must continue to fund separate carer support programs.
2. Continue investment in early intervention for children with developmental disabilities
The Better Start for Children with Disability and Helping Children with Autism initiatives should be retained until the full nationwide rollout of DisabilityCare Australia (DCA) is achieved, so as not to disadvantage children outside DCA sites. The number of eligible conditions should also be expanded to ensure that all children who can benefit from developmental delay interventions have the same life chances.
3. Invest in the future of young carers
Funding is needed for specialist young carer counsellors and targeted outreach activities to assist hospitals, police, universities and health professionals to identify young carers and refer them to available supports. Support for an Educational Assistance Scheme should be established to provide tutoring assistance for young carers in need of additional support. There is also a need to subsidise the cost of young carer homework clubs.
4. Support carer participation in education, training and employment
There should be a review of the ‘25 hour rule’ which currently restricts the ability of recipients of the Carer Payment to participate in education and training while they are in a caring role.
Carer-specific employment training should be implemented for carers seeking to re-enter the workforce. The requirement to seek work under the Newstart Allowance to be graduated over six months to allow for the adjustments necessary when the person receiving care has died, or where they have moved into an institutional environment (but the carer continues to be involved with their care).
5. Address the disconnect between aged and disability care supports
Aged care reforms should ensure an entitlement-based service which delivers supports where and when they are required. People who acquire a disability over the age of 65 should still be eligible for the same level of support offered to their younger equivalents under DisabilityCare Australia.
New Carer Support Centres should be funded to provide services and supports to all carers, regardless of the age and nature of impairment of the people they care for.
Carers Australia believes that these five election commitments are both achievable and necessary for any incoming government, and that all carers should have the same rights, choices and opportunities as other Australians.
The full version of the Carers Australia Federal Election Campaign 2013 can be found here.
Carers Australia has also endorsed Alzheimer’s Australia’s election campaign document, “Fight Dementia”, which includes a focus on the needs of carers of people with dementia.