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Minister launches major initiative for carers.

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Media Release


Mr Warwick Smith


WS 5/98

9 February, 1998




Family Services Minister, Warwick Smith, today launched a national toll-free 1800 telephone service for carers wanting information about respite a vailable in their local area.


Mr Smith launched the service for Australia's 1.5 million carers at the opening of the Southern Metropolitan Carer Respite Centre in Melbourne.


"The toll-free number is an important initiative for Australia's carers, as they will be able to arrange planned and emergency respite by making a simple, free phone call," Mr Smith said.


"Carers are the backbone of many families, and play an extremely important role for our community in caring for those who are unable to fully care for themselves, and who want to remain at home.


"It is vital carers are able to take a break, both for themselves and people dependent on them.


"The toll-free number will ensure carers, including those in regional and remote areas, will be able to determine what respite is available to them in their area simply by phoning the toll-free number - 1800 059 059."


Mr Smith also launched the publication, Carer Contacts , which is designed to outline the full range of Federal Government funded services and financial assistance available to carers, including contact phone numbers for detailed information.


"It is appropriate the toll-free number and carer's publication are being launched today at the opening of a new respite centre which will serve a community which has one quarter of Victoria's carers, a large elderly population and significant ethnic communities," Mr Smith said.


The Centre is one of 58 respite centres being opened nationwide in key metropolitan, rural and remote areas. They are being established under the Federal Government's National Respite for Carers Programme to provide a single contact point for carers needing respite.


"The Federal Government has allocated $36.7 million to expand respite care and to implement the National Respite for Carers Programme, underling our commitment to people with disabilities, frail older persons and their families," Mr Smith said.


Media Contact:


John Hewitt: (02) 6277 7240. Mobile: (0412) 437 317.