When you’re a carer, you can sometimes forget to look after yourself too. But thankfully, an increasing number of services are making sure you get the financial and hands-on practical help you need.
Definition of carer: A carer is anyone – child or adult – who looks after a family member, partner or friend who needs help because of their illness, frailty, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction and cannot cope without their support. The care they give is unpaid.
What is available for carers?
Accessing information and support is often complicated by differing rules and programs in each state. It can also depend on your Australian residency status. Even if your child was born in Australia, if you are not an Australian citizen, or do not meet the residency criteria, you and your child may not be eligible for benefits provided by the Federal government, including the NDIS and Centrelink. Please check your eligibility for accessing the below.
Centrelink have payments you may be eligible for:
A means-tested amount of financial assistance which can either be paid weekly or fortnightly. There are different rates of Carer Payment for single and partnered people.
A fortnightly amount of $136.50 (per person you care for), to help towards expenses in your caring role. If you have multiple people you act as a carer for, you get a payment per person.
Carer Adjustment Payment
A one off payment of up to $10,000 to assist families (in financial duress) following a catastrophic event where a child younger than seven is diagnosed with a severe disability or severe medical condition. You will also need to provide proof of financial hardship including bank statements, tax returns and letter from employer.
What you get
Who can apply
Australian citizens and eligible residents.
How to access
You must have a MyGov account to apply online and be ready to have evidence (documents and medical letters) at hand for questions about income, your child’s disability needs and requirements. There is also a medical component to the forms which is to be completed by your treating medical professional to support your application.
Carer Gateway is a national support service funded by the Australian Government. It provides free services for anyone caring for a family member or friend who is living with a disability, mental health condition, dementia, chronic health condition, terminal illness, or is frail and aged.
Services are designed for carers, by carers, to help build skills and reduce strain, ensuring you are in the best emotional space for your important caring role. Services are free to access and include:
Planning and information – to get the support and services to meet your individual needs.
Counselling – a private space to talk about the joys and challenges you may face in your caring role.
Support groups – a place to share stories, knowledge and experiences with other carers.
Coaching – to help set and achieve goals for your future.
Practical assistance – access to services to assist in your caring role such as cleaning, gardening and respite care.
Emergency respite – 24/7 access to care and support.
HOW TO ACCESS
Accessing Carer Gateway services will not affect services delivered through NDIS, carer payments or any state or territory carer services you may be receiving.
After an initial assessment and planning session, a Carer Support Worker will talk you through the range of supports available and put a personalised plan in place to match your individual needs.
Call 1800 422 737 to register for Carer Gateway or visit carergateway.gov.au for more information.
WELLWAYS CARER GATEWAY
In the New South Wales regions of Southwest Sydney (Bankstown through to Wingecarribee), Nepean and Blue Mountains out to Lithgow, these services are delivered by Wellways Australia.
HOW TO ACCESS
If you live in the above regions, call 1800 422 737 to register for services.
Companion Card holders receive a second “companion” ticket at no charge at participating venues and on public transport. The companion ticket is also exempt from booking fees. You can use the card at approved venues such as theatres, cinemas and sporting events like the AFL and NRL and even on theme park admission (including annual passes).
What you get
One free ticket as the companion of a person with a disability.
Who Can Apply
Anyone who requires attendant care support to access venues and activities in their community (residence and citizenship status not required).
The Companion Card is in the name of the person with a disability, so the card may be used by different carers. The cardholder’s companion may be a paid or unpaid assistant or carer, family member, partner or friend. Only businesses who are affiliates of the Companion Card are required to provide a ticket at no charge for your companion.
HOW TO ACCESS
State and territory bodies are responsible for issuing Companion Cards. A form must be completed alongside supporting evidence by your health professional/service provider. dss.gov.au/our-responsibilities/disability-and-carers/program-services/for-people-with-disability/national-companion-card
Carers Australia is the national peak body representing Australia’s unpaid carers, advocating on their behalf to influence policies and services at a national level.
Each state has its own carers’ organisation, which oversees state-based programs.
These are some of the programs run by Carers Queensland. Programs in your state may differ from those listed.
Carer Program is designed to make your life better, providing services to assist you in your caring role, including:
- Carer Health and Wellbeing supports you through activities and events focusing on your health and wellbeing, and by connecting you to other carers and your local community.
- Guardianship and Advocacy Program assists carers who are experiencing difficulties in their role of caring for an adult who has reduced decision-making capacity.
- NILS Program interest-free loans offered to eligible carers on low incomes.
- Community Engagement facilitates a range of activities like tailored information sessions and support for community events to raise awareness of carers and the services available to support; including providing information on how to access the Carer Gateway.
- NDIS Local Area Coordination program supports people with disability to live connected and fulfilling lives. The program helps people understand and access the NDIS and connect them to local services. If you are not eligible for the NDIS, Carers Queensland can support you to link in with services, supports and activities happening in your community.
- Your Caring Way program offers free employment services, subsidised training options, and personalised coaching for unpaid carers in Queensland, Tasmania, and South Australia. They can assist in learning and create a step-by-step plan towards achieving fulfilment in your own life, based on your own needs.
- Registered Training Organisation (RTO) offers nationally-accredited training to support you in gaining a qualification, building your skills, or starting a new career. Training is delivered through a highly flexible and self-paced model, either online or face to face. Available courses include Aged Care, Disability Support, Community Services and Job Readiness.
Other Services for you:
Australian Disability Parking Scheme (ADPS)
The scheme is recognised nationally and has established consistent eligibility criteria and minimum parking concessions to help reduce the barriers for permit holders when travelling interstate. State and territory governments are responsible for the management of the ADPS. dss.gov.au
Carer Business Discount Card
Caring for Carers
Caring for Carers Australia (CCA) is an organisation committed to acknowledging and honouring all carers. They hold annual morning teas and provide carer retreats.
If you are a young carer aged between 12 and 25, the Young Carers Network can help you find support whilst continuing your education. The Bursary program offers 1000 bursaries of $3000 annually to assist with education needs and resources for young carers.
Hidden Disabilities Lanyard
The Hidden Disability Sunflower Lanyard is an easily recognisable symbol that indicates to people around you that you might need a bit of extra time, support and understanding. Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) has partnered with businesses and organisations all around Australia to raise awareness about hidden disabilities.
Supporting young people aged four to 25 who provide care for a family member affected by disability, chronic or mental illness, addiction or frail age.
The Carers Foundation
The Carers Foundation Australia provides wellness programs to support the emotional, physical and mental wellbeing of unpaid carers, via one to three-day retreats.