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 is currently being reviewed and carers and stakeholders are encouraged to have their say. Carers NSW encourages carers and interested stakeholders to share their views on how the legislation is working, and how it could be strengthened for carers.
Read the Discussion Paper and share your views. The survey is open until 15 April 2016.
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.
The NSW Carers Charter establishes 13 principles:
a) The valuable social and economic contribution that carers make to the community and the persons for whom they care should be recognised and supported.
b) Carers' health and wellbeing are to be given due consideration.
c) The views and needs of carers and the views, needs and best interests of the persons for whom they care must be taken into account in the assessment, planning, delivery and review of services provided to persons who are cared for.
d) Carers should be referred to, and made aware of, appropriate services to assist carers in their caring role. Such referrals should be made after an assessment of the needs of carers or as part of the assessment or provision of services to the person being cared for.
e) The relationship between carers and the persons for whom they care should be respected.
f) Carers are to be acknowledged and recognised as having their own individual needs within and beyond their caring role. This acknowledgement and recognition is to take into consideration Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander culture, age, disability, religion, socio-economic status, cultural differences, gender identification and place of residence.
g) Children and young people who are carers have the same rights as all children and young people.
h) Children and young people who are carers face additional difficulties and burdens and should be supported in overcoming these difficulties and burdens.
i) Carers should have the same rights, choices and opportunities as other Australians.
j) Carers' choices in their caring role should be supported and recognised, including the recognition of carers in the assessment, planning, delivery and review of services that impact on carers and their role as carers.
k) The additional difficulties faced by remote and rurally based carers caused by isolation should be recognised and acknowledged.
l) Support for carers should be timely, responsive, appropriate and accessible.
m) Carers' unique knowledge and experience should be acknowledged and recognised.
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 Council is chaired by the Minister for Disability Services, who 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.
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 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.
The Act is an important first 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 this will require a proactive approach from the NSW Government, Carers NSW and other stakeholders to ensure that the legislation is implemented. Public service agencies will 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.
Carers NSW acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land, Elders past and present and all Aboriginal people.