Government Response - Report on the inquiry into better support for carers 1-5

Recommendations 1 - 5


Recommendation 1

That the Treasurer direct the Australian Bureau of Statistics, either through an extension to its Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers or through the development of an alternative carer specific survey, to expand the information it collects on carers to include information on: secondary carers; carers providing episodic care; carers providing palliative care; and carers aged 15 years and under.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics should also consider increasing the frequency of the Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers to three yearly intervals.



AGREE IN PART

The Commonwealth and State and Territory Governments have provided funding of over $4 million to double the 2009 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers sample size. The expansion of the sample size will: facilitate more detailed analysis of characteristics of carers and the care they provide; and better measure unmet need. This will improve the information collected on secondary carers, carers providing episodic care and carers providing palliative care.

Carers aged 15 years and under are already identified in the Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers1. The Commonwealth Government, through the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, also commissioned the Social Policy Research Centre, University of New South Wales, to conduct a major, multi-stage study into the advantages and disadvantages of care giving for young carers, Young carers in Australia: Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of their care giving, including quantitative analysis of existing national data sets on young carers.

The Commonwealth Government agrees to explore the expansion of the Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers sample size beyond 2009. The Commonwealth Government will progress this issue with State and Territory Governments in the context of future Council of Australian Government negotiations.
In addition, the Commonwealth Government, through the Department of Health and Ageing, has set aside funds of over $1 million for additional work with the Australian Bureau of Statistics on data including community care data and data on carers.

In addition, the 2007 Australian Bureau of Statistics Survey of Employment Arrangements, Retirement and Superannuation included a work and family balance module that collected information separately on caring within the household and across households. The 2013 survey will incorporate a time use diary for a subsample of about 4,000 households to increase the information available about caring activities in the family.

Given the availability of information from these sources, the Commonwealth Government does not agree to increase the frequency of the Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers to three yearly intervals.


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Recommendation 2

That the Australian Government, through the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and the Department of Health and Ageing support a national community education campaign to promote a better understanding of the role and needs of carers, and an appreciation of the contribution that carers make to society.

The campaign should also include components to promote increased awareness of their role among ‘hidden’ carers who may not readily self-identify and to address the concerns of carers who may be reluctant to disclose their role to others.



NOTE

The Commonwealth Government currently funds Carers Australia to undertake community awareness-raising activities and campaigns.

The Department of Health and Ageing provides funding of $200,000 each year to Carers Australia to administer Carers Week. Carers Week is a national awareness‑raising event, held in October each year, that aims to recognise, promote and raise awareness of the valuable contribution carers make to society; generate discussion on issues of importance to carers; raise awareness of hidden carers; improve self-identification; and provide an opportunity for carers, organisations and government to share experiences, ideas and information.

The Commonwealth Government also provides ad hoc funding to Carers Australia for various forums and conferences to promote a better understanding of carers’ issues. For example, in 2008 the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs provided funding to Carers Australia for the Bring It! 2008 Young Carers Forum. The forum enabled young carers to discuss key areas of concern (including identification), provide input to the Commonwealth Government’s policy agenda and talk with politicians and/or their advisers about the issues young carers face.

The Commonwealth Government, through the Department of Health and Ageing, also provides funds for 54 Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres to provide information and services for aged people, people with disability and carers. Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres provide outreach activities at a local level, including developing appropriate publicity material; promotion at relevant conventions and conferences; and engaging and networking with general practitioners, allied health professionals and other stakeholders.

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Recommendation 3

That the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and the Minister for Health and Ageing propose to the Health, Community and Disability Services Ministerial Council that the Australian Government and each jurisdiction review existing legislation and policy relating to health and community care to ensure that carers are adequately recognised.

If legislation affecting carers falls beyond the jurisdiction of the Health, Community and Disability Services Ministerial Council then it should be referred to the appropriate ministerial council for review.



AGREE

The Commonwealth Government appreciates the importance of ensuring that the needs and role of carers are appropriately recognised in relevant legislation and policy and agrees to propose that appropriate ministerial councils review relevant Commonwealth and state and territory legislation and policies to ensure that carers are adequately recognised.

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Recommendation 4

That the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs seek the Health, Community and Disability Services Ministerial Council to develop a nationally consistent carer recognition framework, comprising:

  • national carer recognition legislation, which complements state and territory carer legislation; and
  • a national carer strategy which builds on and complements state and territory carer policies.

AGREE

The Commonwealth Government agrees to lead the development of a national carer recognition framework including legislation and a national carer strategy, and will seek to progress this work through relevant ministerial councils.

The Commonwealth Government will introduce Commonwealth carer recognition legislation in 2010. The development of this legislation will be informed by a review of existing carer recognition legislation and policy, to be undertaken by the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, by the end of 2009.

Following this, the Commonwealth Government will seek to progress the development of a national carer recognition framework through relevant ministerial councils.

The development of a national framework will be informed by the review of relevant Commonwealth and state and territory legislation and policy to ensure that carers are adequately recognised (Recommendation 3). The National People with Disabilities and Carer Council and peak carer bodies would be consulted as part of the development process.

The Commonwealth Government also notes that work is already being undertaken to ensure that carers are recognised in relevant Commonwealth legislation and policy. For example, the Commonwealth Government developed a Charter of Rights and Responsibilities for Community Care which recognises that services to the care recipient need to be delivered in a way that respects the person’s family, representative and informal care arrangements. From 1 October 2009 the Charter is a legal instrument that applies to Australian Government funded aged care packages which operate under the Aged Care Act 1997 (Cth).

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Recommendation 5

That the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet establish a national office for carers, either within the Office of Work and Family or as a new office within the Department.

That the Australian Government nominate a lead Minister to be responsible for overseeing the development of nationally coordinated carer legislation, policy, programs and services so that these are effectively linked across all levels of government and portfolios.

NOTE

The Commonwealth Government notes that there are many issues affecting carers and that these cross a number of portfolio responsibilities, such as health care, social support, workforce participation, aged care and disability support.

To address the intention of this recommendation the Commonwealth Government will establish a high level cross departmental forum to coordinate carer legislation, policy, programs and services so that they are effectively linked across Commonwealth portfolios. The forum will provide quarterly reports to Ministers on carers’ issues and ad-hoc advice as required. The Departments of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs; Health and Ageing; Education, Employment and Workplace Relations; Veterans Affairs; Human Services and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, will be represented on the forum.

Responsibility for specific carer policy, programs and services will remain the responsibility of individual Ministers and their respective Australian Public Service agencies. Therefore, the Commonwealth Government does not agree to establish a national office for carers or to nominate a lead Minister.

  1. In the Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers, adult survey respondents are responsible for identifying carers aged 15 years and under. However, this information is not reconfirmed with the child to ascertain whether they consider themselves a primary carer.

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Content Updated: 26 June 2012