Removing barriers to employment for Australia’s carers

The Albanese Labor Government will enable carers to work more flexibly and progress their study while still keeping their Carer Payment under changes to be announced in the Budget.

We’re committed to supporting Australia’s 2.65 million carers and ensuring if they want to work, study or volunteer they can more easily and flexibly do so.

We know carers often work fewer hours than they want to, with underemployment much more common among unpaid carers than the general population. Progressing with study or training can also be difficult.

To help address this, the Government will make changes to the participation limit for Carer Payment, to allow more flexibility in the hours carers work, study or volunteer over a four-week period as well as changes to Temporary Cessation of Care days which provide respite.

Under the proposed change Carer Payment recipients will be able to work 100 hours over a four week period rather than the 25 hour per week current limit. This will provide greater flexibility for Carer Payment recipients to structure their work commitments around their caring role before losing their payment.

Additionally, travel time, education and volunteering activities will no longer be counted in the participation limit. The travel time change will particularly assist carers who live in regional and remote areas and are more likely to need to travel further for work.

This will help carers – predominantly women – across the country to better balance work, study, volunteering and caring.

Currently, Carer Payment can be cancelled if the 25 hour limit per week is exceeded. As well as greater flexibility, this measure also introduces a six-month suspension period for recipients who work over the new flexible limit, meaning if their circumstances change they won’t need to reapply to access the Carer Payment.

The measure also provides for the use of single Temporary Cessation of Care days provision to one-off or occasional instances of exceeding the participation hours limit.

These changes respond to recommendations in the Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee’s 2024-25 report and align with the roadmap outlined in the September 2023 Employment White Paper. They have also been called for by stakeholders.

The Government will legislate the changes and it is estimated the cost to the Budget will be $18.6 million over five years.

Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth said removing barriers to employment and improving workforce participation was a key priority of the Albanese Government.

“Our economic plan and our Budget is all about helping Australians earn more and keep more of what they earn. These changes will allow carers to more flexibly work and more easily take up on seasonal work or overtime, particularly for those carers whose caring roles are episodic. This along with tax cuts for all taxpayers from July will make a difference for Australia’s carers,” Minister Rishworth said.

“Australia’s carers are our nation’s heroes who work selflessly to support their loved ones, and those they care for.

“Under these changes, carers with have greater ability to flexibly manage their work commitments in a way that both fulfills their needs and the needs of the person they are caring for.

“We know for many carers, but in particular carers of people with mental health conditions, frequently find care requirements can be fluctuating or episodic and that then can make regular work or study a challenge.” 

The measure builds on the important work the Government has already done to improve the lives of carers and their work opportunities, including launching the Carers Inclusive Workplace Initiative.

The changes will commence next year, subject to the passage of legislation.

The Government is delivering a National Carer Strategy, investing $3.8 million over two years from 2023-24 to deliver a national agenda to support Australia’s carers.

The first meeting of the Carer Strategy Advisory Committee will be held on Monday 6 May 2024.

Further information on the Advisory Committee and its members can be found on the DSS Website.

Information on other services and supports for carers is available on the Carer Gateway website.