Topic: Carer Gateway campaign launch, National Carers Week, Stage three tax cuts
GRAEME GOODINGS, HOST: Today, Sunday 16 October, marks the start of National Carers Week, the time to recognise and celebrate the millions and millions of Australians who provide care and support to a family member or to a friend. Joining me now is Amanda Rishworth, the Federal Minister for Social Services. Minister, good afternoon. Thanks for being with us.
MINISTER FOR SOCIAL SERVICES, AMANDA RISHWORTH: Great to be with you.
GRAEME GOODINGS: It’s too easy to undersell the importance of carers in this society, isn’t it?
AMANDA RISHWORTH: Look, it is. I think what we know is that carers provide – and this is just an estimate – 2.2 billion hours of care and that would cost the economy $77.9 billion if it was provided by paid care workers. So it is a significant contribution, but one of the things we know is not all of them are actually getting the help they can and that’s something that I’m very keen to address.
GRAEME GOODINGS: Is this financial help they need or support in other ways?
AMANDA RISHWORTH: It’s support, it’s advice, it’s knowing what services are out there. There is a really good place where you can get all this information. But what has come across my desk is the fact that only five per cent of the 2.6 million people who are carers have actually registered for this information and support. So there's a challenge there and we really want to address that.
GRAEME GOODINGS: I mean, I was surprised to hear that one in nine Australians is effectively an unpaid carer.
AMANDA RISHWORTH: It's a huge statistic and one of the challenges that we're actually finding is a lot of those people don't actually identify as a carer, so they're obviously always putting the person they're caring for first. They don't really think about it, or if they do identify as a carer, that they're not actually reaching out for help. So it is a huge number of people out there that may not see themselves as an unpaid carer, but that's exactly what they're doing every day.
GRAEME GOODINGS: Yeah. When you think about it, I know when my mother was getting elderly and sort of running around and taking her to the medical appointments and taking her to the shops and, you know, helping her get her hair done and doing different things, that's effectively being a carer.
AMANDA RISHWORTH: Absolutely. And some people work day to day, whether they live with people or not live with people, but they are doing that extra work for someone that perhaps isn't able to do things for themselves. That's exactly what a carer is. So it is a really, really important job and of course a lot of carers are very clear that they wouldn't be anywhere else. They love doing this, but we do recognise that there's also some challenges as well that comes along with that.
GRAEME GOODINGS: And I guess part of the challenge is the fact that you're sort of eased into being a carer, it just happens. Of course you look after a loved one, a family member, a relative or whatever, and you're doing it and all of a sudden you realise you might be out of your depth. Is there anywhere you can go to get help?
AMANDA RISHWORTH: There is, and that's what we would like to encourage people to do. There is a place called the Carer Gateway, which is almost a one-stop shop of information that you can look up to find information. If you might need some respite or you might need some other type of support, people can contact 1800 422 737. That's 1800 422 737 or go to carergateway.gov.au. And these will have a wealth of information. You can register there, keep up to date and importantly potentially connect with people that are in a similar situation to yourself.
GRAEME GOODINGS: That's exactly what I was about to say. If you're venturing into the area of being a carer, there'd be nothing better than to speak to someone who's in a similar situation. So there is a facility for this?
AMANDA RISHWORTH: Absolutely. One of the areas particularly that that is really useful for is actually the group called Young Carers. They are actually young people that might be caring for a parent, for example, or a sibling and find themselves not able to do the same sorts of social recreational activities that other young people do. So those types of groups and support you can get the details of that in the Carer Gateway as well.
GRAEME GOODINGS: Minister, if I could speak to you on another issue at the moment, there's been a suggestion that the Treasurer could be about to axe stage three of the tax cuts that have been promised. That could happen as early as the upcoming Budget. As Social Services Minister, how would you feel about that?
AMANDA RISHWORTH: It’s clear that we have no intention of changing our policy on the stage three tax cuts. That is not something that we are planning to do. For me, as Social Services Minister, my job is looking at how I can best support people living with a disability, our carers, those more vulnerable children and families. And that's exactly what I'm doing now.
GRAEME GOODINGS: Minister, thanks for your time today.
AMANDA RISHWORTH: Thank you.