Page 4115 - Week 13 - Thursday, 2 December 2021

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This bill demonstrates the government’s ongoing commitment to support carers, as we are currently doing so through initiatives such as the carers strategy. By introducing this legislation, the ACT is formally recognising the vital role of carers and embedding this recognition across our community. This bill is about inclusion. The principles set out in this bill will ensure that care and carer support organisations, both government and non-government, actively consult with, consider and act on the needs of carers when developing and reviewing their services, programs and policies.

We are fortunate to have such a diverse community in Canberra, including many people who need support in different areas of their day-to-day lives. Across our city, approximately 50,000 carers provide unpaid care to family members, friends or neighbours who live with disability, experience mobility issues, a physical or mental health condition or are frail aged. Some of these carers are young people who juggle their caring responsibilities with school or training. Other carers look after children and young people who cannot live with their families so that they can grow up safe, happy and loved.

Carers are often forgotten members of our community, and their needs and aspirations often come secondary to those they care for. Some carers do not even recognise themselves as carers and simply see themselves as someone helping and supporting loved ones or a person close to them. This carer recognition legislation affirms and acknowledges our collective reliance on what carers do every single day to support our community and make it the kind and connected place that it is.

The ACT government has worked in partnership with Carers ACT and carers themselves to co-design the ACT carers strategy, based on the understanding that carers policy must be developed in consultation with and based on carers’ expertise and lived experience. I am humbled to learn about the complexity of the caring role and to identify ways we can better support the wellbeing needs of our carers.

Throughout the COVID-19 public health emergency, carers have continued to provide support, despite unpredictable and challenging changes to services, to ensure the safety and wellbeing of people in need. Their care will remain instrumental in our shared journey throughout the pandemic and beyond.

The Community Services Directorate will promote and communicate the bill to care and carer support organisations, to ensure organisations understand the bill’s specific reporting requirements and, more importantly, to support organisations to be more inclusive of carers, based on the principles and purpose of the bill. This bill illustrates the ACT government’s ongoing commitment to building a city that is supportive of and inclusive for all, including our carers.

In closing, I would like to acknowledge the carers who tirelessly help so many people in our community. You each play a vital role in supporting the people you care for to have more positive wellbeing outcomes, inclusion and participation across this vibrant city that we share. I would particularly like to acknowledge Lisa Kelly, the CEO of Carers ACT, for her advocacy for carers.

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