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Democrats call for help for all carers of those with cystic fibrosis.

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Senator Andrew Bartlett Senator for Queensland Australian Democrats spokesperson for Welfare and Community Housing

Press Release Dated: 7 Dec 2000

Press Release Number: 00/749 Portfolio: Welfare and Community Housing Related: Income Support

Democrats call for help for all carers of those with cystic fibrosis The Democrats today called on the Government to recognise cystic fibrosis as a severe disability, so parents of children who have the genetic disease, would automatically access the carer’s allowance.

Nearly 2,000 Australian children suffer from cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease. There is presently no cure, and many sufferers die before they reach adulthood. However since 1998, the condition is not recognised by the Department of Family and Community Services as a ‘severe disability’, and therefore most parents do not qualify for the carer allowance.

The Democrats call on the Government to re-classify cystic fibrosis as a ‘severe disability’ or at least adopt ‘special needs criteria’ for sufferers,” said Senator Andrew Bartlett, the Democrats’ welfare spokesperson.

“The next review of the definition of ‘special needs’ is presently not due until 2002, too late for many children who suffer from cystic fibrosis.”

In what may have been the last Question Time for the Minister for Family and Community Services,

Senator Jocelyn Newman said that those caring for children with cystic fibrosis were assessed on a “case by case basis” and that decisions could be appealed.

“Only around 100 families of the 2000 sufferers of cystic fibrosis receive the full carer’s allowance,” said Senator Bartlett.

“Ironically because parents spend hours every day providing physiotherapy to their children, they do not suffer the ‘developmental delay ’which would entitle them to the carer allowance.

“Carer allowance for the parents of chronically ill children can help them to be better prepared to assist the child and to minimise the effect that the illness has on the family as a whole, “ he said.

“This assistance may better equip the parents to help their child to achieve his or her full potential in difficult circumstances,” said Senator Bartlett.

Senator Bartlett said he understood that the Minister had asked her Department to develop special needs criteria for sufferers.

“I urge the Minister to follow this through, particularly if there is any possibility of a change of Minister in the near future,” he said.


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