Carers Recognition Bill 2012

Written on the 15 March 2012

It gives me pleasure to speak on the Carers Recognition Bill 2012.

 


At the outset I commend the Minister for Community Services, Ms Wooldridge, and the Parliamentary Secretary for Families and Community Services, Mrs Coote, for their input into this very important area. We have heard some moving contributions from various members in the chamber today. It has evoked some emotion and a lot of memories for us all in relation to our personal experiences; I am sure many of us know people who undertake a carer's role in a really significant manner, and that role cannot be understated.

 


Mrs Coote said that the debate puts the bill into context. It is about recognising the enormous contributions that carers make to so many people. They make huge sacrifices in their lives -- in their independence, in their financial security, in their careers and very often in their relationships. If a parent is dealing with a disabled or unwell child, it is often the siblings who suffer, and it can take a great toll on those relationships.

 


Anyone who is involved in caring for someone, whether they are elderly, ill, mentally ill or chronically ill, knows about the huge toll. The amount of work done by carers cannot be underestimated.
 

 

The bill fulfils an election commitment. It takes a positive step towards implementing a plan for carers that was announced in the lead-up to the 2010 election. The minister has undertaken an enormous amount of work in this area, and she should be commended for the very thoughtful and considered approach she has taken. The bill brings Victoria into line with legislation in other states and territories. I commend the library for putting together the research brief for the bill. It is very detailed, and it certainly helped me when I was looking at the definitions of a primary carer and a carer. I have worked in the health system for many years and I understand those differences, but it is very important to understand the difference between carers and those who capture the informal care process. The research paper has been well put together.

 


I want to highlight a number of areas in the bill. As I said, it brings Victoria into line with legislation in other states and territories. I found it interesting that Western Australia enacted its Carers Recognition Act in 2004. The most recent legislation was enacted by New South Wales in 2010. Victoria is making a great move forward. Many speakers have highlighted that more than 700 000 people across the state are carers and 194 000 of them are considered to be primary carers. These are extraordinary people with an extraordinary devotion to those they care for and love.
 

 

The purpose of the bill is to recognise, promote and value the role of people in care relationships; support and recognise the fact that care relationships bring benefits to the persons in the care relationship and to the community; and enact care relationship principles to promote understanding of the significance of care relationships. It also recognises the different needs of persons in care relationships, and that is what the bill underpins. A great deal of thought has been put into the bill by the minister in understanding what carers do for so many people across the state. As Mrs Coote highlighted very succinctly in her contribution, there are a whole range of carers and we cannot underestimate the significant work they do. Various members have pointed out the enormous economic benefits to the state, but being a carer can exact a huge toll on personal relationships.
 

 

I was pleased to see that there have been a number of comments from those stakeholders who are most closely associated with the bill, including Carers Victoria, which said it welcomed the introduction of the bill and it congratulated the government for its commitment to supporting and recognising caring families. Carers Victoria CEO Caroline Mulcahy said that the recognition of the care relationship, which is unique to Victoria's legislation, is an important element of the bill because it 'acknowledges the interdependency of people with care needs and their family members'. Ms Mulcahy also stated that the bill was 'long overdue' and would bring Victoria into line with other states with carer recognition legislation.
 

 

With that short contribution, I put on the record, as other members have done, my great admiration for those carers who selflessly give of themselves to so many. They deserve our respect, our support and our recognition for the very important role they play.


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