Election 2013 Western Australia March 9

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Health Matters

WA Labor’s plan to recognise and support the State’s 310,000 carers

Labor Statement

A McGowan Labor Government will develop a whole of Government strategic plan for the State's 310,000 carers to ensure they get the support and recognition they deserve, Shadow Minister for Community Services Sue Ellery said today.

Ms Ellery said Western Australia's growing ageing population, along with an increasing numbers of Western Australians with complex health and social needs, meant it was important to maximise the support and assistance that all government agencies provided to informal friend and family carers.

"About 310,000 Western Australians care for family or friends who have a disability, are frail, aged, have a chronic debilitating health condition or a mental illness," Ms Ellery said.

"Access Economic estimates carers make a strong economic contribution of 1.32billion unpaid hours to society each year.

"WA Labor led the nation by introducing the first Carers Recognition Act requiring that the Health Department, the Disability Services Commission and the organisations they fund comply with the Western Australian Carers Charter.

"WA Labor also established the Carers Advisory Council which advises the Minister for Seniors and Volunteering of compliance with the legislation and provides advice to the government on matters relating to carers."

Ms Ellery said WA Labor would build on its strong history of supporting carers with its Strategic Plan for Carers. The plan will: 

  • Identify actions by which agencies in health and disability, mental health, child protection, drug and alcohol, housing, education and transport can improve the support they provide carers;
  • Co-ordinate and report on information concerning how Government agencies support carers;
  • Be developed in consultation with carers and their representatives; and
  • Be overseen by the policy unit within the Department for Communities.  

"As a first step to towards improving services to carers WA Labor will also provide free travel on any Transperth bus, train or ferry during off-peak periods for more Western Australian carers," she said.

"This means that eligible carers - those who hold a Commonwealth Carers Health Card and receiving the Commonwealth Carer Payment - would travel free between 9am and 3.30pm on weekdays and free all day on weekends and public holidays.

"The personal burden carers carry is at a cost of their own health with over-representation of depression, stress related illnesses and social isolation, sleep deprivation and muscoskeletal problems amongst the carer population.

"WA Labor believes we should do more to support and assist our carers and that's why we will develop a whole-of-Government strategic plan to ensure they get that support and recognition they deserve."

Paul Coates, Chief Executive Officer of Carers WA said WA Labor's initiative hit the nail on the head.

"The development of a State wide strategic approach is exactly what is needed to ensure carers are properly supported into the future," Mr Coates said.

"In a survey of carers following our recent State Conference this initiative was identified as the top priority.

"A commitment to free travel for carers as a first step is welcomed."

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