The first six months of this year have been extremely busy for Carers Australia and much has been achieved. We have been working hard to ensure that carers are represented at the table and have their needs and views raised on the many issues being considered at the federal level. Changes to the aged care, disability and mental health systems are all imminent and it is essential that government understands that carers must be part of the reform equation.
In February, Carers Australia issued a policy position paper, Carers and Mental Health Reform, outlining the critical need for mental health carers to be consulted by service providers and policymakers so that the system might better meet the needs of people with a mental illness and the families and friends who support them.
The same spirit of inclusion and consultation is needed in the implementation of the Living Longer, Living Better aged care reform package. Although we are pleased with its stated goal of keeping an increased number of older Australians in their homes for longer, the implications for families and Carers must be considered as they will undoubtedly take on more caring responsibility and be affected more significantly if adequate planning and resources aren't forthcoming.
The Federal Government’s Ten Year Roadmap for Mental Health Reform, the establishment of the Mental Health Commission and the release of the Living Longer, Living Better reform package all illustrate the heightened political appreciation of the need for mental health and aged care reform, and these measures are welcomed by Carers Australia.
Carers Australia also welcomed the Government’s commitment in the Federal Budget to fund its share of the initial phase of a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and the pledge to roll out the NDIS in mid-2013, a full year before the Productivity Commission’s recommendation.
As key stakeholders, carers will be further consulted about aspects of the scheme's design and implementation through an engagement project backed by an alliance between Carers Australia, the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations and National Disability Services. Details about this project will be provided in a later edition of CNN.
On another note, Carers Australia was nominated as the recipient of funds raised through Pollie Pedal 2012, a charity ride that saw politicians, business leaders and riding enthusiasts cycle from Geelong to Canberra.
Cyclists rode over 1,000 kms and helped raise over $500,000 in sponsorship and donations. The funds raised by Pollie Pedal 2012 will be used to break down the isolation so often experienced by carers by connecting them with the community, with each other and with carer supports and services. In particular we will develop our carer engagement strategies, work with Indigenous communities and carers to identify ways we might better reduce their isolation and increase employer understanding of Carers needs in the workforce and strategies to support their employment.
I would like to take the opportunity to sincerely thank the event organisers, sponsors, cyclists, volunteers and the CA and Network staff who ensured the success of the event. The commitment and generosity of all those involved was truly extraordinary and we are very appreciative of their efforts.
In the coming months we will continue to advise the organisers of Care Aware, a national awareness raising campaign. The campaigns goal is to raise awareness, recognition, support and appreciation of carers across Australia.
Evidently the work of Carers Australia has been and will continue to be significant as we work to keep Carers on the national agenda while continuing to manage services that respond to their needs.
I hope that you enjoy reading this edition of Carers National News which has had a bit of a facelift. You can subscribe to CNN via our revamped website www.carersaustralia.com.au
President, Carers Australia