Page 4116 - Week 13 - Thursday, 2 December 2021

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As a community, we see the enormous impact this can have on your own health, wellbeing and financial situation. We all benefit from your dedication, and this new legislation is a key step in formally recognising and promoting all that you do. On behalf of the ACT government, I am pleased to support this bill.

MR MILLIGAN (Yerrabi) (4.55): The Canberra Liberals also welcome the Carers Recognition Bill and agree broadly that this bill has some merit and will be supported. However, we note that, whilst this bill goes some way towards achieving the recognition of carers included in the ACT carers strategy, it falls short on achieving this.

The bill appears to be primarily aspirational by enshrining into legislation several principles on the treatment of carers through bureaucratic processes. Unfortunately, the focus of this bill appears to be primarily on the reporting obligations relating to the care relationships principles. It adds considerable further compliance and reporting requirements on already-busy support agencies.

Whilst requiring these agencies to do additional tasks and ensure everyone is aware of the principles, the process of defining what the recognition of carers looks like in practice is missing to a large degree. In fact, it would have been useful, for the purpose of supporting those implementing the bill, to have identified what was meant by the word “recognition”. This was mentioned by Carers ACT in their submission to the health and community wellbeing committee. They pointed out that considerable ambiguity is left by the lack of a clear definition.

The ACT government in 2018 launched its ACT carers strategy, and it might have been expected that some of the principles identified in the strategy would find their way into this bill.

It should be noted that the ACT carers strategy has never been separately funded through appropriations since its launch, which is probably why the 2020 review noted that only three of the 25 identified priorities have been completed, with a number of these still at the early planning stage.

One of these recommendations in the carers strategy was to include carers in the development of healthcare plans with their care person. Whilst the bill gives recognition to the carer in the principles it establishes and calls on in having carers’ views considered, it does not require support services to involve carers in the making of decisions for or with those they are caring for. Nor does it include carers in the co-design of health plans.

The sharing of information and co-design of services and programs for those requiring care as partners has been shown to significantly improve the wellbeing for both those receiving care and their carers. This was again something that was highlighted by many submissions to the review by the committee; yet it has not been adequately recognised in the amendments to this bill.

The notion of a co-design of care is already in place in the education system. Here individual learning plans are developed for all students with additional education

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