The Commonwealth Government notes the additional comments by the Hon Judi Moylan MP, regarding the financial stresses experienced by carers. In respect of this, the Commonwealth Government highlights its responses to Recommendations 17 to 28 and notes that the introduction of a permanent Carer Supplement for Carer Payment and/or Carer Allowance recipients will provide carers with better financial security by replacing ad hoc bonuses with a legislated annual supplement.
The Commonwealth Government notes the recommendation by Hon Judi Moylan MP to proceed with the development of a national insurance scheme. As the inquiry report notes, the idea of long-term care for people with disability was raised at the Australia 2020 Summit in April 2008. The Prime Minister recently released the Commonwealth Government response to the Australia 2020 Summit final report. The response states that the Commonwealth Government will consider the development of an insurance model to meet the costs of long-term care for people with disability, in conjunction with the development of the National Disability Strategy.
In relation to the additional comments, the Commonwealth Government notes that Indigenous Australians benefit from care services being delivered by Indigenous people within their communities and is progressing this work through a number of initiatives.
Under the National Disability Agreement, a commitment to develop a National Workforce Strategy and the Indigenous Disability Access Framework will consider Indigenous employment in disability services and related support services. This will include the training of staff and a jurisdictional narrative of progress, initiatives and innovation.
In addition, the Commonwealth Government, through the Department of Health and Ageing, administers a number of initiatives aimed at improving the retention rates of local Indigenous workers in aged care services. These include:
- the Community Aged Care Workforce Development Program, which provides certificate level training targeted at community aged care workers from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander background. Training has commenced and up to 1,000 training places will be offered over four years under the program, which prioritises workers from rural, remote and very remote areas.
- Building an Indigenous Workforce in Community Care; the Northern Territory Emergency Response Welfare Reform Agenda; the Cape York Welfare Reform Trial; and the National Partnership for Indigenous Economic Development. These initiatives have resulted in nearly 700 permanent part-time positions being created for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander carers in aged care services nationally.
The Commonwealth Government notes the recommendation that consideration be given to ‘using some of the recent budget allocated to public housing to develop accommodation options for people with a disability’. The Commonwealth Government is currently working with the states, territories, local governments, community organisations and the private sector to maximise access to affordable and safe rental housing for people who would otherwise have difficulty accessing private rental markets, including aged people, people with disability and people with mental illness.
As part of recent reforms undertaken by the Council of Australian Governments, the National Affordable Housing Agreement has been established. The agreement identifies the roles and responsibilities of each level of government; establishes a performance framework against which the key outcomes of the agreement will be measured; and provides $6.2 billion worth of assistance in the first five years.
In addition, under the associated National Partnership Agreement on Social Housing, the Commonwealth Government is providing $400 million for states and territories over two years to build new social housing dwellings or redevelop existing dwellings.
The Commonwealth Government has also committed funding of $5.2 billion from 2008-09 to 2011-12 for the construction of new social housing and a further $400 million for repairs and maintenance to existing public housing dwellings, under the Social Housing Initiative as part of the Nation Building – Economic Stimulus Plan. Funding under the new construction element of the Social Housing Initiative will meet the needs of high-priority applicants on public housing waiting lists and proposals that support aged people and people with disability. All Stage 2 Social Housing Initiative proposals are being assessed against their capacity to deliver universal design principles that facilitate better access for people with disability and aged people. So far, 93 per cent of all social housing delivered under the Nation Building – Economic Stimulus Plan meets universal design principles.
Finally, the Commonwealth Government notes that as set out in its response to Recommendation 39, there are a number of current initiatives available to support the needs of employed carers.