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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 02 Hansard (Tuesday, 23 February 2010) . . Page.. 513 ..


a number of these workshops, primarily in regional and rural areas. I have to say that it was quite a profound and moving experience running these workshops. Consistent issues came up through all these workshops. Those issues included worrying about what is going to happen to the person they care for when they go or they are too old to maintain the caring role, appropriate accommodation, getting access to appropriate respite services. We heard about all those issues and other issues around stigma, not being respected and listened to. They are all consistent themes that came up.

Because we do live in a regional area, we have other regions which we service. Carers do come to Canberra to use services; so we do have that added pressure here from regional areas. But I think that mental health is often an area which does have additional stigma attached to it because of mental illness and I think we have to remember that at all times when we are looking at this issue. But it was, as I said, a very profound experience to actually hear first hand these experiences of carers who are living day to day with these issues of what is going to happen through their lives.

A number of speakers today and various reports have mentioned the issue of hidden carers. Of particular relevance to mental health, as I have already spoken about, are culturally and linguistically diverse communities and young carers. Ms Hunter has already talked about young carers but an issue with them is that they often do not self-identify, and that is often due to stigma. Sometimes, as is the case with other carers also, they just see it as something they do and they do not actually recognise themselves as carers. This issue of hidden carers is addressed in the Who cares? report. And it is a major issue, I think, we need to address to make people actually feel comfortable in coming out and acknowledging that caring role.

As a society, we have a long way to go to provide adequate support to carers. This is not just through specific services to carers but also through those support services that are needed for the people they care for. And the two very much go hand in hand.

As Ms Porter noted, the number of carers recorded through the census does not actually record the actual numbers of carers in our community because, as others have noted, many carers just do not identify and the issues of stigma and social isolation are key issues to address if the situation is to change. Ms Porter also mentioned the national disability insurance scheme, which is being considered by the federal government. I really do hope this progresses and actually happens and that it does not become a scheme or notion which is dismissed as being too difficult.

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (4.01): I thank Ms Porter for bringing this matter of public importance forward today. Carers in the ACT, in our community, do play an important role and I think it is timely and appropriate that we highlight and acknowledge that role. This MPI today gives us an opportunity to recognise the extraordinary things that carers do to give quality of life to people for whom they care.

The government’s caring for carers policy from 2003 describes a carer as a person who provides or has provided unpaid care and support to a person who has needs associated with a disability, ageing, ongoing physical or mental illness or substance abuse. And to expand on that description and to give an idea of the scope of the role of carers in our community, I could refer to the ample amount of material that is on


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