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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 02 Hansard (Tuesday, 23 February 2010) . . Page.. 506 ..

Blakemore and their colleagues at Autism Asperger ACT, who maintain awareness in the community of autism spectrum disorders.

The list could go on and on. These are but a few of the carers that I have met to date, and they have instilled a sense of hope and purpose in me and my role in this place. I have been encouraged by these individuals and inspired by their dedication. I hope that we, as a group within the Assembly, can do justice to their needs. Again, I thank Ms Porter for bringing this MPI to the Assembly today.

MS HUNTER (Ginninderra—Parliamentary Convenor, ACT Greens) (3.35): I would like to thank Ms Porter for bringing this matter to the Assembly today. The term “carers” covers a wide variety of groups and individuals in our community. As well as those who care for people with a disability or illness, there are young carers and kinship and foster carers who care for our vulnerable children and young people.

As outlined on the Carers ACT website, carers can be parents, partners, children, brothers, sisters, children or friends. They might be as young as five or as old as 90. They may care for a few hours a week or all day, every day. They can care for one individual or two or three family members or friends. Some are eligible for government benefits. Others rely on their salary or have a private income, even though they may be eligible for financial assistance.

Firstly, I would like to recognise the vital role carers of all descriptions play. Their hard work and care assists the most vulnerable and isolated members of our community. The government and community as a whole rely on their ongoing commitment to the people in their care.

I would like to commend and express my admiration for carers in the ACT and their efforts. I would also like to thank groups such as Carers ACT, the Foster Carers Association, the ACT Disability, Aged and Carer Advocacy Service—ADACAS—and the Kinship Carers Group for their advocacy and support for these individuals and families. This is just a small example of some of the services who work to provide information and advocacy support at the emotional, financial and social levels.

Many of you would have received budget submissions from community organisations. The Carer ACT 2010-11 budget submission states:

The contribution made by family carers to the ACT economy has been conservatively estimated in 2005 to be in excess of $524.6 million per annum; if formal care services were used to replace contributions made by families in providing the care to people who are unable to live independently. Yet, the delivery of this highly valuable service to the ACT community does not come without a cost to families.

ACT residents who are providing care often incur significant financial and wellbeing costs due to the impact of the caring role … National research projects have consistently identified that Carers are an ‘at risk’ group for negative wellbeing, as they have higher than average rates of depression, chronic illness, injury and poverty due to the physical, emotional and financial demands of the caring role.

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