Recognising, valuing and supporting unpaid carers

House of Representatives

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs has today tabled the report of its inquiry into the recognition of unpaid carers. The Committee examined the challenges faced by unpaid carers and options for reforming the Carer Recognition Act 2010 (the Act).

Chair of the Committee, Ms Susan Templeman MP, said “despite the best of intentions, the Act has not encouraged a cultural change in how public service agencies and their associated providers interact with and support carers. This is because the Act is unenforceable, contains weak and vague statements without clear calls to action, and relies on a voluntary and inconsistent reporting system with little oversight or accountability.”

“It is critical that carers have the right to be acknowledged as partners in care, to be involved in planning and policy development, to be provided with information regarding the person they care for in order to provide care, and to be able to access flexible work arrangements.”

“I acknowledge the important work of the former Committee Chair, the late Peta Murphy MP, who led this inquiry until her death in December 2023. Peta was committed to making a difference in public life and brought compassion, intellect, integrity, and good humour to her work with the Committee and in everything she did,” Ms Templeman said.

The report makes 22 recommendations, including:

  • modernising and extending the definition of carer in the Act to be more inclusive of the diversity of caring roles, and ensuring this definition is harmonised across all relevant legislation
  • seeking legal advice to determine how best to establish rights for carers
  • creating stronger obligations on public service agencies to reflect the principles of the Act
  • improving carers’ access to the supports they need, such as respite options and counselling, through Carer Gateway
  • prioritising carers’ health and wellbeing, and providing targeted support for First Nations and culturally and linguistically diverse carers, through the new National Carer Strategy
  • addressing the financial disadvantages carers experience over their lifetime, including supporting flexible work arrangements, introducing an income tax credit for carers returning to the paid workforce and consideration of other options to incentivise and recognise the impact of caring through the income tax and superannuation systems
  • implementing a community education campaign to promote recognition and awareness of carers’ rights and the diversity of carers, to address gender stereotypes and reduce stigma, and to drive positive workplace cultures
  • ensuring there is more comprehensive data to inform policy and to track outcomes
  • requiring a review of the operation and effectiveness of the Act and the National Carer Strategy every five years.
/Public Release.