Family carers still carry the burden after today’s state budget

Today’s Tasmanian Budget was a mixed bag for the states 85,000 family and friend carers, said Carers Tasmania, the State’s Peak Body for informal carers.

“Whilst there are spots of good news, there was not much in today’s budget for family carers,” said CEO David Brennan.

“Family carers will continue being the primary source of support for many Tasmanians.”

Disability services and the NDIS

Carers of children with autism requiring professional reports for an NDIS application will welcome today’s announcement of $1M for the Tasmanian Autism Diagnostics Services.

“As the state with the nation’s highest rates of Autism, the lack of access to professionals to leaves many families in despair and at breaking point. Any measure that speeds up the process for these carers and alleviate their stress is positive,” said Mr Brennan.

“Carers Tasmania had hoped the budget would more broadly address access professionals through a workforce development, attraction and retention strategy, but it does not. Many other families and carers will have to further endure the stress they are under.”

Whilst the Budget heralds $1B expenditure for people with disabilities, this is primarily Tasmania’s contribution to the NDIS. Tasmania has to wait until the financial year after next at the state level to see $27.5M of new funding for people with disabilities.

The Government believes that the Commonwealth Information Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) grant program will fill the void.

“Sadly, the Government is in denial, as the ILC grants won’t address the needs of the 80,000 Tasmanian’s ineligible for the NDIS. They are short-term, project-based grants currently provided only at a national level.”

Mental Health

The Budget had little good news for carers and their families requiring mental health services. Much of the expenditure is focused on infrastructure which, whilst needed, is yet to be realised. Most other initiatives are one-off, with limited allocation in the Forward Estimates.

In the absence of services, the burden falls to family carers and friends to fill the gap that government has left.

“Caring for someone with mental illness is often extremely stressful and episodic and we would have liked to see new funding in this area,” Mr Brennan said.

Education

Carers Tasmania welcomes the continued focus on student wellbeing and its role in supporting positive learning outcomes.

Funding for the delivery of the Mental Wellbeing Action Plan is also welcomed, as it recognises the enormous pressures today’s students are under.

Carers Tasmania regrets that the estimated 1,500-2,000 student carers have been left behind in this year’s budget.

“Whilst young carers are often the most bullied cohort at school and fall 18-24 months behind in NAPLAN results by Year 9, they remain hidden with no initiatives to identify and support them.”

Mr Brennan said “we hope to see an allocation under budget initiatives, such as Taking Education to the Next Level, to routinely address the 2% of students caring for a family member.”

CPI Funding

Carers Tasmania has welcomed the commitment to provide CPI increases in peak body funding arrangements. Recognising the increasing cost of service delivery is appreciated.