Carers Call for Support in Budget
Monday, 8th May 2006 at 1:05 pm
Carers Australia has called on the Federal Government to increase its support of Australia’s 2.6 million carers in the 2006-07 Budget (Tuesday 9th May).
Data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare estimates the economic value of carers to be more than double the total amount contributed to government welfare services. Yet current financial entitlements for carers are not enough to meet the true costs of caring.
Carers Australia says carers have expenses such as medical appointments, therapies, medications and special transport costs for the person they care for, which must be covered in addition to normal living expenses.
The majority of carers are of workforce age, however according to recent figures only 33.9% of primary carers are in paid employment. This is largely attributable to the demands of their caring role.
Carers Australia says that with so few carers receiving a regular wage any additional expenses create a serious financial burden.
It says Government financial entitlements go some way to alleviating additional cost to carers. However the maximum amounts available to carers are, $499.70 per fortnight for Carer Payment, and $94.70 per fortnight for Carer Allowance. This does not reflect the true cost of caring.
Access Economics (2005) established that it would cost $30.5 billion to replace the work done by carers. Therefore Carers Australia says it is economically sound, and fair, to support carers in their role.
It says what is needed now is research into the direct and indirect costs of caring so that future planning for the growing demand for care takes into account the true costs.
Carers Australia calls on the Australian Government to:
– Increase the Carer Allowance to reflect the true costs of care
– Invest in research to identify the true costs of care provided by carers and families
– Promote and streamline access to financial entitlements for carers
– Bonus payments to Carer Allowance and Carer Payment recipients to be paid annually and indexed, rather than as one-off payments
– Extend bonus payments to carers receiving other income support payments, such as the Aged Pension, or Family Tax Benefit Part B for single income or sole parent families.
Carers Australia is the peak body for 2.6 million people of all ages providing care for family members or friends with a disability, mental illness, chronic condition or who are frail/aged.
Carers Australia provides services and support to Australia’s carers through the network of Carer Associations in each state and territory.