Australia's 2.7 million carers will be better supported in their valuable roles under what has been labelled the 'single biggest reform [for carers] in more than a decade.'
Yesterday, Minister for Families and Social Services, Anne Ruston, announced a new regional network of service providers, which will deliver more than five times the number of services currently available.
Ten not-for-profit organisations will receive $493 million in funding over five years to establish a network of 16 service providers to support carers through the national carer hub, Carer Gateway.
“From April next year, we are introducing a new service delivery model designed by carers, for carers, to help them get the support they need early before reaching crisis point,” Minister Ruston says.
“We are also providing demand-driven funding for carers to access respite when they need it.”
Respite funding will increase from the existing $44 million allocation to $65 million in the first year, increasing to a total of $77 million.
From April 2020, the new network of regional service providers will support carers in providing access to:
carer support and planning
in-person and phone-based coaching, counselling and in-person peer support
information and advice
targeted financial support packages with a focus on employment, education, respite and transport
access to emergency crisis support
assistance with navigating relevant, local services available to carers through Federal, State and local Government and non-Government providers, including the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), My Aged Care and palliative care.
Minister Ruston explains, “These services give carers access to a range of supports to help reduce stress, build resilience and cope with daily challenges.
“For example, if a carer is looking to get back into the workforce, they can access a financial support package to go towards their education or training.
“Under previous arrangements, each year we provided support to carers on 130,000 occasions, but under the new model this will increase to about 700,000.
“This is an unprecedented growth in the availability of services for carers.”
Chief Executive of Carers Australia, Ara Cresswell, says the regional network will ensure our nation’s carers are better supported within their roles.
“The new regional network of service providers will play a significant part in delivering necessary supports for Australia’s family and friend carers, providing an increased range of service types and improved access,” Ms Cresswell says.
“It promises to deliver a suite of support services on a more geographically equitable basis, which will be easier to navigate and less fragmented than has previously been the case.”
Acting Chief Executive Officer of National Disability Services (NDS), David Moody, says the new carer support will be welcomed by all disability service providers.
“We hope the new Regional Carer Gateways will assist people with disability, their
families and supporters to better navigate the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and maximise the benefits they are able to access under the Scheme as a result,” says Mr Moody.
“From the time it started, the NDIS was always designed to rely, at least in part, on
informal and voluntary support.
“We know from NDIS data that those who are supported to advocate for services are more likely to get them.
“Funding on this scale can be expected to make a real difference in the lives of people with disability and those who care for and support them.”
As of last month, carers can now access new early-intervention supports, a new free phone counselling, self-guided coaching and online skills courses through Carer Gateway.
Carers can continue to access support through their usual service providers until the new Carer Gateway service providers are established in April 2020, with existing service provider funding to be extended until 31 May 2020.
The announcement forms part of the Government’s record commitment of nearly $700 million to support the important work of Australia’s unpaid carers.