Policy Submission: Towards a National Carer Strategy
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The Julia Farr Association Parents Forum submitted this response to the Australian Government’s Discussion Paper titled ‘Towards a National Carer Strategy.’
The Parents Forum is hosted by the Julia Farr Association and provides opportunity for parents of school aged children living with disability to share information about how best to ensure that their children get a fair go at high quality inclusive education.
The Forum members work together to identify pathways towards helpful change, not only for their children, but for all children living with disability. For these parents, the Forums are about taking action, social networking and support. It offers opportunity for them to work towards shared vision: for their children to lead valued and inclusive lives with access to the same opportunities as their non-disabled peers and to explore the issues they experience as family members.
The Julia Farr Association’s role, within the context of its own value base and knowledge capital, is to help amplify the voice of the Forum about what needs to happen.
Forum members are passionate and highly positive about their role in the lives of their children, and at the same time acknowledge there are challenges. These challenges include system bureaucracy, fragmentation and lack of transparency. They are exacerbated when combined with insufficiencies in funding and other service resources. The result is huge difficulties in accessing appropriate support. This is especially pertinent in terms of limited access to specialists, equipment and family support.
Against this backdrop, the Parents Forum has considered how the Australian Government can support family members in their caring roles now and into the future.
The Parents Forum acknowledges the relevance of the vision, aims and goals in the government’s discussion paper on a National Carers Strategy. However, the Parents Forum believes the Strategy blueprint developed so far does not properly address how these objectives will be advanced in real terms; moving from theory to tangible outcomes. Above all, the Parents Forum advocates that any framework or strategy around family members in caring roles must encompass a person-centred, whole family approach.
Design and Implement a credits system for family carers
The introduction of Self-Directed funding for individuals who live with disability and their family Carers
Accountability for waiting lists, limited recognition, limited funding for equipment, services and respite
Implementation of thorough screening and matching processes between paid support workers, children living with disability and their family carers
The introduction of a Mentorship Program for Carers
Education for employers about what is needed to support carers and flexible hours
Government to be a role model in supporting carers to enter the workforce
An increase in the number of spaces and facilities for OSHC
Introduction of National Superannuation Co-Contribution Scheme for family Carers
Increasing the Carers Payment and modifying the eligibility Criteria
Implementation of a National long term savings Scheme functioning similar to RDSP’s
Implementation of Tax Deductions for family Carers
An increased number of support groups for parents
Helpful services booklet
Information on accessible retreats
Carers are regularly consulted by government and agencies about what is best for them
Development of an organisation to trade used equipment
Improved access to higher education providers
Independent Review into performance of key agencies involved in the distribution of public funding for services to families that have a family member living with disability
Access to exercise that assists to strengthen the family carer