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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 13 Hansard (Thursday, 2 December 2021) . . Page.. 4118 ..

The bill sets out care relationship principles that illustrate the importance of the connection between people receiving care and the people who provide it. The bill provides for carers to be recognised, respected, valued and heard by relevant government and non-government organisations. It establishes obligations on organisations to raise awareness of the principles, to report annually on work done for carers, and to consult with carers on matters that impact their care relationships.

Carers provide unpaid support to tens of thousands of people in our region, doing valuable work that mostly goes unnoticed beyond their closest families and friends. The contribution that carers make to the wellbeing of the individuals they support and to the community as a whole is immeasurable, although I am sure that Lisa Kelly would be able to tell you exactly what the estimated value of that care is.

It is important that we bring this contribution to light and recognise the part carers play in improving the quality of life of so many Canberrans. It is also vital that carers are supported to deliver care to the most vulnerable members of our community and for their own wellbeing.

I acknowledge that carers face hardship and challenges as a result of their caring responsibilities. Caring has an impact on physical and mental health, while carers often put their own needs last as they manage their busy lives. Young carers in particular often have multiple layers of disadvantage.

It was interesting that the deliberative process we undertook to develop the carers strategy, bringing together carers and those who receive care from a range of backgrounds, concluded that the needs of young carers particularly should be prioritised.

In the health sphere, carers play a crucial role in supporting healthcare consumers in the ACT. In addition to solidifying the way carers are valued in our community, this bill importantly promotes the health, wellbeing and needs of carers themselves. The principles outlined in the bill align with Canberra Health Services’ vision of creating exceptional health care together for consumers, their families and carers.

We know that navigating a healthcare system is hard enough. As a carer, there are additional barriers across the system that Ms Orr touched on in her presentation speech. We also know that carers’ own health can suffer as they prioritise the needs of their family member or loved one. The bill and the steps it takes, along with the government’s Carer Strategy 2018-28, investment in a patient navigation service and improvements across the system will all help to lighten this load.

This bill also acknowledges the incredible work of kinship and foster carers in supporting children and young people in out-of-home care. Becoming a foster or kinship carer is a life-changing decision that brings rewards and challenges. It requires commitment and patience to provide a loving home for children and young people who cannot live at home with their birth parents. With more than 800 children and young people living in out-of-home care in the ACT, the work of carers is essential to the wellbeing of these young community members and to the fabric of our wider community.

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