Darren’s statement about Carers

As the Australian Democrats candidate for Fraser, I call on Mr Howard and Mr Rudd to outline what they will do do to provide ongoing support for people who care for friends and relatives with disabilities.

I attended the launch of National Carers’ Week in Canberra at the start of the election campaign. It deeply concerns me that carers have been virtually ignored during this campaign.

Carers have been the forgotten people of this election campaign. There still isn’t adequate respite for Carer’s in the ACT. There are not enough group houses, despite the involvement of both the government and private welfare sectors.

Financial difficulties, depression and the need for greater support structures are just a few of the problems faced by carers. But they highlight the need for greater government assistance for carers both financially and with the provision of services and programs. The assistance of emotional support for carers is also in need being addressed, with depression being an area which needs greater awareness overall.

I call for an increase in Carer payments and allowances, greater tax relief for carers, provision of more respite houses, and extension of the eligibility for carer payments and allowances.

The Australian Democrats Carers policy can be found at: http://www.democrats.org.au/docs/ActionPlans/Disability_Carers_2007.pdf

The Australian Democrats statement about Carers can be found below.

Darren Churchill

Australian Democrats candidate for Fraser

0412 196 473

The Australian Democrats statement about Carers

The Democrats have long acknowledged that the work of carers receives little in recognition or financial reward and we have a long history of addressing and raising in the Senate the difficulties, both financial and social, that carers face. For example, we have had a specific campaign on increasing carer payments for over a year now.

The Australian Democrats believe that additional support and help should also be provided to young carers, ageing carers, parents of children with disabilities and carers of the profoundly disabled.

The Australian Democrats will continue to advocate for carers at the federal level and provide as much support and advocacy for Australia’s carers as we possibly can in the future.

Our key policy commitments for each of the 5 issues that they have highlighted follows. We also have a commitment to introduce a Family Responsibilities and Carers’ Rights Act as recommended by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission in its report ‘It’s About Time: women, men, work and family’.

1. Integrated support for carers
Establish a National Office for Carers with responsibility to develop a national carer framework and advise on the impact of new policies on carers.

2. Carer financial security
Increase the rate of carer payment from $215.65/week to $383.25 (75% of the standard minimum wage) and double the rate of the carer allowance to $98.50 per week. Convert the $1,000 Carer Bonus into an annual, indexed payment.

3. Carer workforce participation
Establish a national one-stop carer workforce participation gateway, an Employers for Carers program, provide financial and other incentives to encourage employers to participate. Support the right to flexible work hours and part-time work for carers.

4. Carer health and wellbeing
Fund a carer health program

5. Carer education and training
Increase access to employment, education and training, and without fear of losing financial assistance

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