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Government ignores the cost of care.

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Government Ignores The Cost Of Care Chris Evans - Shadow Minister for Family Services and the Aged

Media Statement - 9 June 2000

Families caring for children with chronic illnesses such as cystic fibrosis, diabetes, epilepsy and phenylketonuria will continue to miss out on the Carers Allowance after a Government Report released this week recommended that these conditions not be added to the list of recognised disabilities.

Responding to the Evaluation of the Child Disability Assessment Tool the Shadow Minister for Family Services and the Aged, Senator Chris Evans said:

"Assessment for the Carers Allowance must take into account the financial, social and emotional cost borne by families caring for children with severe disabilities. "The Child Disability Assessment Tool measures the functional ability of the child but not the care and attention demanded of the carer. As a result, many more families are failing to qualify for financial support.

"Since the new assessment tool was introduced in July 1998 I have received a constant stream of letters and phone calls from concerned and distressed parents struggling to care for children with severe disabilities.

"Parents caring for children with cystic fibrosis are struggling to keep their heads above water. Without the Carers Allowance they are forced to meet the costs of pumps, masks, sterilising equipment, special diets, exercise programs and equipment out of their own pockets. These are substantial costs.

"It is often the case that the extraordinary efforts and care provided by parents is the very reason that children are able to function day-to-day even when their life-span is limited. Ironically, these efforts may also disqualify them from receiving financial support."

Senator Evans said that the Government's response to the Evaluation Report offers "no comfort to families and children in need."

"Parents who have been refused the Carers Allowance do not want to know that the Government will "follow up the assessment of children with these conditions" and "investigate the possibility of developing special needs criteria".

"These families want an assessment tool that recognises the cost and time involved in providing care for their children.

"These families are clearly fulfilling any notion of mutual obligation. This Government loves to articulate obligations for others but it has again failed to fulfil its own. Families and children dealing with severe disability deserve more than this."

Authorised by Geoff Walsh, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.