Details of family carers overhaul announced

The Government has released more details of the family carers overhaul, set to pull the age of eligibility down to 16 and bumping up pay rates for some carers by about $2000 a year from April 14.

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Associate Minister of Health Jenny Salesa said that caring for family members "is one of the most valuable contributions someone can make in our society, especially when that work requires giving up things like paid employment". 

The Government announced a raft of changes in July, 2019 to the funding policy for carers with a family member or spouse with high needs due to disability, health conditions, mental health, addiction or old age.

The changes would see family carers that are currently paid the minimum wage, go up to between $20.50 and $25.50 from April 14, 2020. 

"If a family carer is funded for the average 27 hours per week on the new $20.50 minimum, this change represents a 8.47 per cent pay rise above the minimum wage, or about $2,200 more than they would have got," Ms Salesa said. "For family carers funded for 40 hours per week, these reforms mean at least $3,328 more per year."

The new reform is set to expand carer eligibility to spouses and partners, expand carer eligibility to 16-18 year old family members, expand client eligibility to include under 18 year olds, remove the current requirement for an employment relationship to exist between a disabled person and their resident family member and lift wages.

It also is set to repeal the law that prevents people from taking claims of unlawful discrimination to the Human Rights Commission or before the courts under the Public Health and Disability Act 2000. Labour had already signalled its intention to repeal - set to be scrapped on September 1, 2020. 

"People were angry that they were prevented from making discrimination claims on the basis of family status," Ms Salesa said.

"This is an important symbolic change for the disability and carers communities and I acknowledge their ongoing advocacy."

Funded Family Care pays family members of people with high and very-high needs relating to a disability or long term chronic health condition, mental health, addiction and aged care needs, to give home an community support services.