NSW Carers (Recognition) Act 2010

The introduction of the NSW Carers (Recognition) Act 2010 was an historic moment for carers in NSW, and an important first step toward better recognition and support for carers.

About the NSW Carers (Recognition) Act 2010

The objectives of the NSW Carers (Recognition) Act 2010 (the Act) are to enact a Carers Charter to recognise the role and contribution of carers to our community and to the people they care for, and to increase awareness of the valuable contribution that carers make to our community.

The Act:

  • defines who a carer is
  • establishes the NSW Carers Charter
  • creates obligations for public sector agencies and human service agencies
  • establishes the NSW Carers Advisory Council.

Read the Carers (Recognition) Act 2010.

Following a review of the Act in 2016, the NSW Carers Charter and other parts of the Act were amended in 2017.

Definition of a carer

According to the Act, a person is a carer if they are an individual who provides ongoing personal care, support and assistance to any other individual who needs it because that other individual:

a) is in the target group (as referred to in section 5 (1) of the Disability Services Act 1993), or

b) has a medical condition (including a terminal or chronic illness), or

c) has a mental illness, or

d) is frail and aged.

The Act states that a person is not a carer if they provide support and assistance under a contract of service or a contract for the provision of services, or in the course of doing voluntary work for a charitable, welfare or community organisation, or as part of the requirements of a course of education or training.

The Act also clarifies that a person is not a carer merely because a person is the spouse or de facto partner of the person, or is the parent, guardian, child or other relative of the other person, or lives with the other person.

NSW Carers Charter

The NSW Carers Charter establishes 13 principles:

1 Carers make a valuable contribution to the community

(a) NSW recognises the valuable social and economic contribution that carers make to the community.

(b) Carers should have the same rights, choices and opportunities as other Australians.

(c) Carers’ unique knowledge and experience should be acknowledged and recognised.

(d) The relationship between carers and the people they care for should be respected.

2 Carers’ health and well-being is important

(a) Carers should be supported to enjoy optimum health and well-being and to participate in family, social and community life, employment and education.

(b) Carers should be supported to balance their caring role with other roles, such as work and education.

3 Carers are diverse and have individual needs within and beyond their caring Role

(a) The diverse needs of carers should be acknowledged and recognised in policy, programs and service delivery, taking into consideration culture and language, age, disability, religion, socio-economic status, place of residence, gender identity and sexual orientation.

(b) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander values, heritage and concepts of caring should be respected and valued.

(c) The additional challenges faced by carers who live in rural and remote areas should be acknowledged and recognised.

(d) Children and young people who are carers should be supported to reach their full potential.

4. Carers are partners in care

(a) The choices, views and needs of carers and of the people they care for should be taken into account in the assessment, planning, delivery and review of services provided to the people they care for.

(b) Carers should be referred to, and assisted to access, appropriate supports and services.

(c) Support for carers should be timely, responsive, appropriate and accessible.

NSW Carers Advisory Council

The NSW Carers (Recognition) Act 2010 established the NSW Carers Advisory Council. The role of the Council is to advance the interests of carers. The Council provides advice to the NSW Government on legislation, policy and other matters that have a significant impact on carers.

The Minister for Disability Services appoints the council members. More information about the Council and its current members can be found on the NSW Department of Family and Community Services website

Obligations of public sector agencies

The NSW Carers (Recognition) Act 2010 establishes obligations for public sector agencies, and additional obligations for human service agencies. Public sector agencies include Local Health Districts, NSW Government agencies, local councils, state-owned corporations, Divisions of the Government Service and the NSW Police Force. Human service agencies are public sector agencies that provide services directed at carers or persons being cared for by carers.

Under the Act, public sector agencies must ensure that staff and agents of the agency have an awareness and understanding of the NSW Carers Charter. Public sector agencies must consult with carers or bodies representing carers when developing policies that impact upon carers. The internal human resources policies of public sector agencies must be developed with due regard to the NSW Carers Charter.

Human service agencies have additional obligations under the Act. Human service agencies must take all reasonable steps to ensure that the agency, staff, and agents take action to reflect the NSW Carers Charter. Human service agencies also have reporting obligations under the Act.

What does the Carers (Recognition) Act 2010 mean for carers?

The Act is an important step towards better carer recognition. Although the Act does not give carers legal rights, entitlements or status, it does create obligations for public service agencies and human services agencies which should improve the degree to which they recognise, include and support carers.

The Act has the potential to create real change for carers, but requires a sustained and proactive approach from the NSW Government, Carers NSW and other stakeholders to ensure that the legislation is implemented. Public service agencies need information and support to comply with their obligations and the principles of the NSW Carers Charter. Promotion of the Act will also be important if it is to achieve its aim of increasing awareness of the valuable contribution that carers make to our community.

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Carers NSW acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land, Elders past and present and all Aboriginal people.