There are 2.7 million Australians providing care for one or more family members or friends, including people with disability – navigating their way through what can be a confusing and time consuming labyrinth of government departments.
So, it’s good news the Federal Government has announced it will invest $33.7 million over the next four years in an Integrated Plan for Carer Support Services, which will streamline and co-ordinate services for the nation’s carers.
The funding includes $10.9 million to create a new national carer gateway that includes a website and national call centre as a first point of contact for carers.
It’ will help carers navigate their way through the different entitlements, services and government departments they need to deal with.
The Gateway will be able to refer them to specialist advisory services and services providers, that can help them do this.
It will also provide carers who do not access formal support at the moment information about what they may be entitled to.
An Expert Advisory Group has been established to help in developing the carer gateway with members from services providers, peak bodies and individuals that have carer specific skills.
It will be co-chaired chaired by Chief Executive Officer of Carers Australia, Ara Cresswell, and the Department of Social Services.
“Many family and friend carers do not identify themselves as carers and are not aware of the assistance they can receive – whether that is counselling and emotional support, training in the carer role, access to respite, legal matters or financial assistance,” Ms Cresswell said.