Thursday, 8 October 2020
Statements by Members
National Carers Week
Next week is National Carers Week—a week marked each year to thank carers and recognise their extraordinary contribution. The theme this year is 'why we care'. Australia's 2.65 million unpaid carers do an incredible job supporting family, friends and loved ones who need care. But we need to remember this care often takes a toll on the physical health, mental health and financial security of the carer, especially this year.
As we face COVID-19, unpaid carers of children with disability, of frail elderly parents and of partners with chronic health problems have taken on more responsibility than ever before as formal support falls away and waiting times grow. The value of informal care across Australia in 2020 is estimated to be close to $78 billion. Yet, at the same time, government financial support for carers is only a small fraction of this amount.
This week's budget didn't do nearly enough. Carers will only receive an extra $500 over six months—less than $20 a week—which is not enough to meet the extra costs they've faced as a result of the pandemic. It's no surprise then that many carers feel overlooked and left behind by this government. In aged care, 23,000 additional home-care packages over four years will offer little comfort to the more than 100,000 older Australians waiting for care at home. While they wait, their carers bear the burden. So this National Carers Week, I call on the government to do more. (Time expired)