Government Response - Report on the inquiry into better support for carers 6-10
Recommendations 6 - 10
That the Australian Government consider consolidating portfolio responsibility for people with disabilities, people with mental illness, the frail aged and their carers into a single Australian Government department.
The Commonwealth Government does not agree to consolidate portfolio responsibility for people with disability, people with mental illness, aged people and their carers into a single Australian Government department.
The Commonwealth Government is of the view that the current departmental structure of the Australian Public Service ensures a responsive policy and program approach to carer, disability, mental health and ageing issues.
However, as set out in the response to Recommendation 5, 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. This will facilitate greater coordination and streamlining of carer policy and programs.
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That the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and the Minister for Health and Ageing, seek agreement through the Health, Community and Disability Services Ministerial Council to extend the Access Points Demonstration Projects to include disability services and community mental health services.
The Commonwealth Government agrees to seek agreement, through relevant ministerial councils, to progress work towards a single access point model of service delivery.
In 2006 the Council of Australian Governments agreed to develop a simplified way for consumers and carers to access information and community care services. As part of this, all jurisdictions agreed to develop a consistent assessment process for community aged care services.
There are currently nine Access Point Demonstration Projects operating in seven states and territories trialling different ways to make access to community care services easier for clients and their carers. The Demonstration Projects:
- provide information about community care services
- provide advice on eligibility for services
- conduct a broad assessment of a person’s needs (including the carer in some models)
- facilitate referrals to community care service providers or to other specialist or comprehensive assessors as appropriate.
Extending this project to disability and community mental health services would require the Commonwealth and State and Territory Governments to agree to a single access point model for these service delivery systems. Accordingly, the Commonwealth Government agrees to pursue the issue of a single access point model with State and Territory Governments through appropriate ministerial councils.
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That the Australian Government make locally based peer support carer groups a priority within existing community grants programs available across portfolios.
The Commonwealth Government agrees to make locally based peer support carer groups a priority within existing community grants programs, where appropriate. Community grants programs within the Government are diverse and the Commonwealth Government agrees to assess community grant rounds on a case by case basis.
For example, the recent Volunteer Grants 2009 round, identified that community organisations providing support or services to people with disability, mental illness and/or their carers were a priority group for funding.
In addition, the Government will provide $430,000 in 2009-10 for one-off community grants for state and territory carers’ associations to run activities to support and recognise carers, in partnership with locally based peer support care groups.
The Commonwealth Government notes that it already administers a number of programs that provide peer support to carers. Examples are:
- The MyTime Peer Support Program, which provides peer support groups for parents and carers of young children under school age with disability or chronic medical condition. Children are provided with play activities and support while parents participate in activities and discussions.
- The Helping Children with Autism Package, which includes a number of initiatives to support families caring for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, including programs which offer peer support:
- Initiatives being implemented by the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs include the provision of Early Days workshops, a website and playgroups for families and carers of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders.
- Initiatives being implemented by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations include workshops for parents and carers of school aged students with Autism Spectrum Disorders.
- Playgroups funded through Community and Family Partnerships under the Family Support Program, which provide opportunities for children from birth to five years of age to learn through play and to develop their social, emotional and physical skills while parents and caregivers develop social and support networks. Families and children with disability are a specific target group of this program.
- The Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs provides ongoing funding to the West Australian Deaf Society to deliver playgroups for parents and/or children with hearing impairment.
- The Mental Health Respite Program which provides support, choice and flexibility including peer support for carers and care receivers. It increases the supply of flexible and appropriate respite options for carers of people with severe mental illness, psychiatric disability and/or intellectual disability.
- The Mental Health Community Based Program which is targeted at supporting families, carers, children and young people aged 16 to 24 years, affected by mental illness, through a diverse range of community programs, including peer support programs. The program seeks to build on family strengths and improve resilience and family functioning, particularly for Indigenous families and those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
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That the Minister for the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs fund the expansion of the MyTime Peer Support Program to:
- include parents of school aged children with disability; and
- increase geographical coverage.
AGREE TO FURTHER CONSIDER
The MyTime Peer Support Program provides local support to parents and carers of very young children with disability or chronic medical condition.
In the 2008–09 Budget, the Commonwealth Government provided additional funding to pilot four MyTime Peer Support Groups for parents and carers of school-aged children with disability or chronic medical condition. The four pilots began in late 2008 and were reviewed in June 2009.
The Review indicated that a more age inclusive MyTime program could enhance individual and family wellbeing. The Commonwealth Government has agreed in consultation with MyTime providers and families, to consider further enhancements to the MyTime Peer Support Group Program.
The geographical coverage of the MyTime Peer Support Program is increasing over time. The program is being implemented progressively and the full complement of MyTime Peer Support Groups, expected to benefit up to 2,500 families, is due to be reached in 2009–10.
The Commonwealth Government also notes that PlayConnect Playgroups offer carers, of children aged zero to six years with ADS or ADS like symptoms, similar local support and opportunities to develop social support networks as MyTime Peer Support Groups. These PlayConnect Playgroups are funded as part of the $190 million Helping Children with Autism Package. Playgroups Australia, the national provider for the PlayConnect Playgroups, are working with the states and territory Playgroup Associations to establish 150 playgroups throughout Australia.
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That the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and the Minister for Health and Ageing request that the Health, Community and Disability Services Ministerial Council develop a national strategy to address the training and skills development needs of carers.
The Commonwealth Government will request that ministerial councils consider the training and skills development needs of carers in the development of a national carer recognition framework, the development of which the Commonwealth Government has committed to leading in response to Recommendation 4.
Any national training and skills development strategy should build on existing training and skills programs which exist in the states and territories and incorporate current Commonwealth Government initiatives.
The Commonwealth Government currently administers a number of initiatives which address the training and skills development needs of carers. The Department of Health and Ageing funds the Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres to provide carers with necessary information about care services and supports. The centres can also link carers to local services that assist with knowledge and skills development to help support them in their caring role.
Under the Dementia Initiative, the Commonwealth Government has provided $3 million over three years (to 2010–11) to support the individual needs of carers of people with dementia. The funding is provided to Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres to purchase local services for carers that can help with their education and training needs. This includes assistance such as driving lessons, educational activities and personal care skills.
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