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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 11 Hansard (14 November) . . Page.. 3430..


MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

(i) a commercial arrangement; or

(ii) an arrangement that is substantially commercial.

An example of carers in the legislation, which sums up the crux of it pretty well, is:

Ms S suffers from a severe brain injury because of a car accident and requires constant care. Her spouse, 2 children aged 18 and 11 and a family friend share her care and would each be a 'carer'.

That is a fairly good example of what happens in practice. The bill is reflecting what happens in practice, and we support it.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (12.12): I will be supporting the Carers Recognition Legislation Amendment Bill, as it provides greater rights and recognition to the many carers that live in the ACT. I have some concerns that flow from the bill, which I will outline below, but I will not be proposing any amendments. This bill has a long history, including commitments in the Canberra social plan, the 2003 caring for carers policy and the 2004 carers action plan; so it is good to see some legislation finally coming to the Assembly.

As we know, carers are an important part, and they are going to be a growing part, of our society. Approximately 14 per cent of the ACT population is known to provide unpaid, informal support to others who require care. I am pleased that this legislation provides many of these carers with enhanced rights and recognition, improving their ability to provide care.

I also appreciate that the government took on many of the community's recommendations regarding this legislation, including providing amendments to a number of acts rather than creating a stand-alone carers act; acknowledging that a person can have multiple carers, and these carers often are on an equal basis with near relatives; providing carers with rights of appearance and to be informed of decisions made by the Guardianship and Management of Property Tribunal; recognising that a carer may need to discriminate against potential housemates in order to protect the person they are caring for; and providing some level of recognition of the role that young carers play and their need to represent the person they care for.

While most community organisations appreciate the proposed changes, they have also told my office that they are disappointed that the government has not gone further. In addition, the Greens appreciate the effort the government made to consult with the community about the legislation but we are concerned that many of the submissions made to the 2005 review of carers legislation discussion paper have not been made public. There are also concerns regarding a person's right to privacy and their carer's need to access information which affects the way the care is provided. The Human Rights Office commented that it would be desirable for some ACT legislation to be amended to better deal with these issues.


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