Supporting Australia’s carers

Australia’s unpaid carers will benefit from new services to help them manage their daily challenges, reduce stress and plan for the future.

The Turnbull Government today announced an additional $85.6 million to fund new supports and services for Australia’s unpaid carers.

Around 2.7 million Australians care for someone who needs extra help due to disability, age, mental illness, or long-term physical illness.

The Turnbull Government will introduce a range of new tailored services to help carers get the support they need early before they reach crisis point.

Getting help early can make a big difference to a carer’s life. It can help to reduce emotional or physical strain, assist carers to stay in work or study, take breaks from caring responsibilities and help plan for the future.

Evidence shows that early-intervention, prevention and building carers’ skills leads to better longer-term outcomes and improved well-being for carers.

This is a fundamental shift from the current service delivery model, which is largely crisis-driven, costly and reactive.

Carers Australia Chief Executive Officer Ara Cresswell said, “this is a most welcome announcement”.

“For some years now Carers Australia and other carer service providers have been working with the Department of Social Services to design a more integrated and nationally consistent model of delivering services to Australia’s 2.8 million family and friend carers. While not all carers need special support services in their own right to meet the challenges they face in their caring role, a great many do,” Ms Cresswell said.

“Over one third of carers who are the main source of support to one or more people with disability, chronic or terminal illness, mental health challenges or who are frail aged, provide 40 hours or more of care a week and a third of such carers also have a disability of some kind themselves.

“The new integrated carer support services model announced today will extend the range and accessibility of carer supports and address some of the fragmentation of existing services, which have been a by-product of accumulated historical changes to programs and of aged care reform and the National Disability Insurance Scheme.”

The new early-intervention service model will be rolled out in two stages.

From October 2018, carers will be able to access new supports and services through the Government’s Carer Gateway website including peer support, counselling, coaching and educational resources.

From September 2019, the Government will establish a network of Regional Delivery Partners to help carers access a range of local services such as needs assessments, targeted financial support, information and advice, tailored counselling and coaching, and crisis support where required.

Carers can continue to access support through their usual service providers until the commencement of the Regional Delivery Partners from September 2019.

The new services are the result of an extensive, two-year process in which carers and the sector have worked closely with the Government on the design of the services.

To provide the additional funding for these new measures, the Government will introduce a $250,000 family income test threshold to the Carer Allowance payment, aligning it with other welfare payments. Around 99 per cent of Carer Allowance recipients will have no change to their payment under this new scheme.

The generous threshold for income-testing Carer Allowance allows the Government to provide financial assistance to those who need it the most while acknowledging the immense contribution carers make to our community.