POSITIVE POLICY

Improving The Lives Of Young Carers

Young Carers in Australia Today

Young carers are some of the most vulnerable Australians.

Currently, there are around 306,000 carers aged under 25. Of these, 23,200 are primary carers - those people who provide the majority of care to an individual. 

These young people are fulfilling an incredibly important role for both their care recipients and also for our nation.

As a result of their caring responsibilities, young carers face extraordinary challenges in completing their education and finding paid employment. They also often face significant physical, psychological and emotional challenges as a result of their caring responsibilities.

Supporting these young carers can help minimise the negative impacts of their caring roles, and help them build happy, healthy lives.

A Shorten Labor Government will increase funding for the Young Carer Bursary Program to ensure more young carers get access to the important assistance it provides them to undertake part-time work or education, at the same time as continuing their caring responsibilities.

Young Carer Bursary Program

The Young Carer Bursary Program supports young carers to complete their education by providing grants of up to $3,000. The program is administered by Carers Australia, who undertake an evaluation of the specific needs of young carers before providing the bursary.

The grants allow a young carer to do things like access the internet from home if they are unable to get to the library, to meet the costs of transport to and from study or work, to purchase books or other resources. The bursaries are designed to support young carers to more easily manage their work and care responsibilities.

The 2014 Budget provided Carers Australia with $3.5 million over three years for the bursary program. This provides around 300 bursaries each year.

Last year, Carers Australia received more than triple that number of applications.

To ensure more young carers get the benefit of the program, a Shorten Labor Government will increase support for the Young Carer Bursary Program.

From 1 January 2017, Labor will triple the funding for the Young Carers Bursary Program. We will also extend the Program for a further three years.

Labor’s record

Labor has a proud record of supporting the 2.7 million unpaid carers in Australia who work tirelessly every day to care for children with additional needs, sick or elderly family members and people with disability.

In recognition of that contribution, in 2009 Labor developed and then delivered the National Carer Recognition Framework, a comprehensive framework of recognition of the value of those Australians who care.

This Framework comprises two pillars: the Carer Recognition Act 2010 and the National Carer Strategy; both of which aim to improve supports for carers and acknowledge the vital social and economic contribution they make to Australian society. 

In 2009, as part of Labor’s historic increase to the pension system, carers in receipt of the Carer Payment or Parenting Payment received an increase of $30 a week to the base rate of their payment. Thanks to Labor, the Carer Payment is now linked to the highest of Male Total Average Weekly Earnings, CPI or the Pensioner and Beneficiary Living Cost Index, meaning it will always keep pace with the cost of living.

In 2013, Labor delivered the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the biggest social reform since Medicare. When fully rolled out, the NDIS will provide support to around 460,000 people with disability. It will also completely transform the lives of their families and carers. 

After generations of being forced to live lives as second-class citizens, people with disability, their families and carers will finally get the care and support they need to live the lives they deserve.

The Liberals’ Record

In the 2014 Budget, the Liberal Government launched an unprecedented attack on carers, attempting to slash the indexation arrangement for the Carer Payment.

Had they been successful, this cut would have left carers, including young carers in receipt of the payment, as much as $80 a week worse off within a decade.

Labor fought this cut, and we have been able to prevent it from becoming law.

Labor remains concerned that a re-elected Liberal Government will once again try and cut the Carer Payment, as well as other pension payments.

Labor is also concerned that the Liberals will use the current review of the Carer Payment and Carer Allowance to reduce eligibility for these important income supports.

Find out more about Labor’s positive policy here.