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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 8 Hansard (27 October) . . Page.. 2309 ..


Motion (by Mr Moore) proposed:

That the Assembly do now adjourn.

Carers Week

MR WOOD (5.04): Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker - - -

MR TEMPORARY DEPUTY SPEAKER: Do you wish to speak on the adjournment?

MR WOOD: On the adjournment. I was also ready to talk on health issues, Mr Moore, but I will have to leave that for another day.

Mr Moore: We adjourned the debate to another day.

MR TEMPORARY DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! Mr Wood, would you address your remarks to the Chair.

MR WOOD: I am happy to do so, Mr Deputy Acting Part-Time Speaker. In Carers Week, I think it is appropriate to focus on the very significant needs that carers have. For example, a few weeks ago I had a phone call from an elderly constituent who, like many hundreds of Canberrans, is caring for a partner with dementia. There are also many hundreds of Canberrans, including an estimated 600 children, caring for parents, siblings and children with many and varied disabilities, both physical and mental. My constituent, as with many other carers, philosophically accepts this burden of care. However, she raised issues of access to and availability of respite care and other forms of help. Seventy-four per cent of all services to people needing care and support are provided by carers such as my constituent, and they often do this with little or no support themselves. Carers are often isolated, tired, ill and poor.

My constituent had a particular twist to the problem. She and her partner had previously lived in a large house with an extensive garden in a prime inner city location. After his dementia became more pronounced, she decided to sell the house and buy something smaller and more manageable. Until then, she had received some financial help with accessing care because her actual income was low. With the sale of the house and the move into smaller premises, she now has some funds available and is paying the full cost of any respite care or other help that she receives. When this money ends, what then? She will be in a worse financial position than when she started and could face an impoverished future. Yet the sale of the house was forced on her by her partner's condition. I do not know what the answer is. Carers are this week reflecting on answers, and the Minister and members of this Assembly will in due course get the benefit of that consideration.

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