Carers and their loved ones are set to benefit from additional support payments and a $3.9 million boost to the NDIS.
People on carer payment and carer allowance will receive two separate $250 support payments in a measure contained in this week’s federal budget.
Budget papers say the government will provide $2.6 billion to provide the payments to eligible people, including those on the disability support pension, the carer payment and the carer allowance.
Payments will be made between November and early next year.
The payments have been welcomed by carer advocacy groups, who say it goes some way to providing recognition of the work undertaken by unpaid carers during COVID-19.
“This is a positive step in recognising the incredible efforts of unpaid carers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” Carers Australia CEO, Ms Liz Callaghan said.
However she said the payments didn’t go far enough to compensate carers for the increased household expenditure associated with providing care in the home during the pandemic.
Ms Callaghan said Carers Australia also welcomes the investment of $1.6 billion to provide 23,000 more Home Care Packages in response to the clear preference of many senior Australians to stay in their own home.
But the needs of carers as well as those receiving the packages must also be recongised, she said.
“The well-documented stresses involved in performing a caring role have only been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, and while we acknowledge the significant investment made by the Australian Government in response to COVID-19, if unpaid carers are to productively continue in their caring roles, they need to be adequately supported’,” she said.
Ms Callaghan said Carers Australia stood ready to work with the government in the further research and consultation signalled in the budget.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg also announced there would be an additional $3.9 billion for the NDIS, which currently supports 400,000 Australians with disability.
Other carer-related initiatives in the budget:
- Increased investment in support for carers of people experiencing behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia
- Continued investment in the National Pandemic Mental Health plan with support for carers with or at risk of mental illness
- Removing the age limit for dependents with a disability from private health insurance policies
- The introduction of system co-ordinators to prevent young people with disability entering residential aged care
- Investment in support for families and carers who have been bereaved by suicide