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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 14 Hansard (11 December) . . Page.. 5258 ..

MR WOOD (continuing):

The caring for carers policy delivers on the ACT government's commitment to better acknowledge carers and address their needs. The development of the policy is the result of a whole-of-government project conducted by the Department of Disability, Housing and Community Services over the past eight months.

Carers, people who receive care, a great number of service providers-including the Carers Association of the ACT-and ACT and Commonwealth government agencies have had extensive input through a carers advisory group and broad community consultation to develop the policy and to validate the draft carers policy. Mr Speaker, I thank all those involved for a very great amount of excellent work.

This policy aims to provide a whole-of-government basis for building better supports for carers in the ACT to enhance the health and well-being of carers and the people for whom they care. The government recognises that caring is a shared responsibility between families and the community. In particular, this policy recognises that carers should have choices, receive support to make decisions about the caring role and have their own needs recognised by human services. The policy also recognises that people requiring care should not be solely dependent on the resources and goodwill of their immediate family or social network.

Through this policy we will actively support carers to make choices about their caring role. We will continue to fund alternative care options and make it easier for carers to access information about these options. We will work with our agencies and funded agencies to respect and support ongoing caring relationships. When those relationships end we will support former carers to adjust to their changed circumstances.

The government recognises that the caring role has both positive and negative impacts on those in the care relationship and that a range of supports is needed to enhance carer health and well-being. This policy recognises that not all carers are the same and have diverse needs for assistance. Carers include children and young carers, carers from diverse cultural backgrounds, indigenous carers, carers with a disability, foster carers and kinship carers who provide additional unpaid work.

The development of strategies for the implementation of the carers policy provides an opportunity to reflect, in practice, the balance needed to support people in their role, however extensive it may be, and those receiving care. Through this policy we will continue to fund information, services and programs which give carers breaks, skills, knowledge and mutual support to help them cope with their role and to help them participate in community life.

We will continue to build on and share knowledge about what supports sustainable caring relationships. Importantly, we will work with agencies to assess these supports over time to make sure they meet the needs of those in the relationship and to ensure there is equity of access.

Our consultations have told us about the difficulties carers experience in accessing timely and adequate support. The level and diversity of carer need is not easy to quantify. The ACT has not had a coordinated approach to monitoring carer needs across service sectors.

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