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Carers’ Week 2003 - let’s show carers that we care about them!



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Media Release Annette Ellis MP FEDERAL MEMBER FOR CANBERRA SHADOW MINISTER FOR AGEING AND SENIORS

SHADOW MINISTER FOR DISABILITIES

17 October 2003

Carers’ Week 2003 - let’s show carers that we care about them!

Carers’ Week (19-25 October) is an important week as it gives us all the opportunity to thank carers for the difficult and important work they do.

It encourages us to think of ways to improve the quality of life for carers, and to address the current lack of services available to carers.

There are about 2.3million carers in Australia, who look after family members or friends with disability, mental illness, chronic condition or who are frail aged.

Carers make a great contribution to our society, by caring for their loved ones, who may otherwise be taken out of the community and be placed in a facility.

The contribution carers make is not only to the people they care for, but also to the community and to the economy more broadly. It is estimated that carers save the Australian economy approximately $20 billion annually. They do this by providing unpaid work.

But we must be honest about the work carers do - it is difficult, and provides very few benefits other than the satisfaction of caring for a loved one.

We cannot ignore the fact that informal care comes at a cost to carers in terms of their wellbeing, quality of life, financial security and opportunity to be in the paid workforce.

The Federal Government has done little to improve the lives of carers, and seems to be doing everything possible to make their lives more difficult. Older, frail Australians now faced a shortage of 10,388 nursing home beds. There are also 18,627 “phantom beds”, which exist on paper but not in reality. The Government has tried to cut the income of people with disabilities, by attempting to remove them from the Disability Support Pension. Approximately 30,000 families will lose their Carer Allowance payments as a result of the Government’s mean-spirited decision to limit access to the Allowance.

And 12,500 people with disabilities cannot get accommodation or respite places.

I support carers in their efforts to have their voices heard and their needs recognised by the Federal Government.

Labor will hold the Howard Government to account. We will continue to champion the rights of the most vulnerable Australians and their hardworking carers.

For further information please call: Annette Ellis MP 0419 422 296 Victoria Toulkidis (Adviser) 0413 459 030