What is the Carer Recognition Inquiry?
On the 13th of June 2023 the Australian Government announced an Inquiry into the recognition of unpaid carers by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs.
The Committee will inquire into and report on the provisions and operation of the Carer Recognition Act 2010 (the Act) in relation to unpaid carers, with a view to reform through legislative amendment.
The Carer Recognition Act 2010 was introduced following the House of Representatives’ Inquiry into better support for carers in 2009, which identified the fundamental importance of adequately recognising carers and that reform was needed to effect meaningful change.
Parliamentary committees and inquiries have an important role in Australian Government. Their main function being to facilitate an in-depth investigation into specific issues, exploring evidence provided by individuals, organisations, advocates and within research. The findings of each inquiry are used to inform legislative decisions.
The process of a parliamentary inquiries will normally include four main steps:
- Launch of inquiry – they key issue and scope of the inquiry are announced.
- Evidence gathering – the responsible committee will consider available evidence and submissions provided. They may also conduct public hearings or briefings to provide an opportunity for evidence to be provided in person.
- Report drafting – the committee will use the research and evidence provided and write a report. This report will outline they key issues and make recommendations for government.
- Presentation – the report and recommendations will be presented to government as well as published online and in-print. The Australian Government will also usually provide a formal written response to the report.
The Inquiry into the recognition of unpaid carers has only recently been launched and they are now gathering evidence.
To find out more about the parliamentary inquiry process, visit the Parliament of Australia website.
Broadly speaking, this inquiry is looking into the provisions and operation of the Carer Recognition Act 2010 (the Act) in relation to unpaid carers, with a view to reform through legislative amendment.
What does this mean?
The Committee will explore how effective the Carer Recognition Act (2010) (the Act) has been since in raising awareness and recognition of unpaid carers, since its introduction.
This will include policy developments since the introduction of the Act, what state, territory and international carer recognition looks like, and how we can better identify the role of unpaid carers in Australia.
However, the adequacy of payments for carers is not within the scope of this inquiry.
How do we know this?
The Committee has been provided with Terms of Reference to outline the scope and key issues of consideration throughout the Inquiry. These include:
- the effectiveness of the Act and the associated Statement of Australia’s Carers in raising recognition and awareness of the unpaid caring role, including its obligations on public service agencies
- developments in the policy landscape at a Commonwealth level since the Act’s passage in 2010
- the effectiveness of existing state, territory and international recognition of unpaid care (statutory or other practice)
- how to better identify the role of unpaid carers in Australian society and the role of a reformed Act, with regard to:
- understanding the value of unpaid care,
- the needs of specific cohorts such as young carers, First Nations carers, LGBTIQA+ carers, or culturally and linguistically diverse carers,
- the meaningful role that flexible workplaces play in unpaid care, and
- the Government’s broad agenda in relation to the care and support economy, the importance of employment participation, and a strong focus on gender equity, and
- any other related matters, noting that the adequacy of payments for carers is out of scope for this inquiry.
The Terms of Reference and other information about the scope can be found on the Inquiry webpage here.
Submissions to the Inquiry have now closed.
If you missed the opportunity to contribute to this Inquiry but want to stay involved with carer policy you can reach out to your local carer organisation learn how you can engage with them, visit their website.
Visit your local carer organisation:
The Committee received over 140 submissions from various individuals, organisations and representatives.
Five separate Public Hearings have been held, each welcoming different representatives or lived-experience carers and allowing them to further share their experiences and opinions on the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference.
Records of all previous Public Hearings can be found on the Inquiry webpage, as well as updates on any future Hearings that may be coming up.
Carers Australia's involvement with the Inquiry
Carers Australia has remained heavily involved with the Inquiry into the recognition of unpaid carers.
Representatives from Carers Australia appeared before the Committee on Tuesday, 8 August 2023 and has submitted supplementary evidence to support this appearance.
Additionally, two submissions have been submitted by Carers Australia. The first, an Issues Brief, outlining a brief history of carer-policy and carer wellbeing in Australia, and the second, providing Carers Australia’s analysis of the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference. These can be found below.
Alongside Carers Australia’s involvement our members, the National Carer Network, have also provided submissions and engaged with the Committee.
Second submission – Recognition Matters
15 September 2023 – 659.72 KBRecognition Matters: Strengthening the Carer Recognition Act and carer representation within Government This is the second submission Carers Australia has provided to assist with the Committee’s work. The first response outlined key information about Australia’s carers, information on Carers Recognition Acts across Australia, and examined the extent to which the introduction of the Federal Carer Recognition Act 2010 is reflected in other legislation directly affecting carers. This submission assesses more deeply the effectiveness of the national Carer Recognition Act and its Statement for Australia’s Carers. Much of this response will focus on identifying the necessary changes needed to the Act to enable better carer recognition outcomes.
Carers Australia Issues Brief – Inquiry into the recognition of unpaid carers
13 September 2023 – 1.73 MBThis Issues Brief has been developed to inform the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs (Committee) for the Inquiry into the recognition of unpaid carers (Inquiry) adopted on 13 June 2023, following a referral from the Minister for Social Services, the Hon Amanda Rishworth MP. This Brief outline key information on Australia’s carers, information on the Carers Recognition Acts across Australia and, in particular, the national Carer Recognition Act, and the extent to which the introduction of that Act is reflected in other legislation which directly affects carers.
Recognition of unpaid carers finally in the spotlight
15 June 2023 – 139.28 KBCarers Australia applauds the announcement of an Inquiry into the recognition of unpaid carers by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs.
Supplementary Evidence for Inquiry into the recognition of unpaid carers
25 September 2023 – 188.45 KBFurther to evidence provided to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs, Carers Australia submits this supplement to the information previously provided.
Caring For Others And Yourself: 2022 Carer Wellbeing Survey – Full Report
10 October 2022 – 5.04 MBThis document provides the Full Report of findings from the 2022 Carer Wellbeing Survey, which surveyed nearly 6,000 carers across Australia during February-March 2022.
Value of Informal Care Report – 2020
31 July 2020 – 651.25 KBIn this report, Deloitte Access Economics estimates the total value of informal care provided in Australia today and examines the implications of demographic trends and projections for informal care in the future.
Caring Costs Us: The economic impact on lifetime income and retirement savings of informal carers
21 April 2022 – 1.73 MBThis document has been prepared by Evaluate on behalf of Carers Australia. Evaluate is an independent private economic consulting practice, with a particular focus on social policy.
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