The Australian Greens said today that newly released ABS data highlights an increase in the number of primary carers and the need to provide better support them and understand their needs.
"Figures released by the ABS today show that there were 2.7 million people providing informal care in 2012, around 29% of them as primary carers. There has been an increase in the number of primary carers providing 40 or more hours of care each week, up from 35% in 2009 to 39% in 2012," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on family and community services said today.
"Carers provide an invaluable service to Australia, and without them, our health and community services would be under unmanageable pressure. With the ABS reporting that around half of all primary carers have attributed feelings such as depression, worry and stress to their work, it is clear that more need to be done to support them.
"It is particularly concerning to see the ABS report that carers are less likely to be participating in the workforce, with young people almost as twice as likely to be unemployed compared to others of their age.
"This statistic is all the more important given the Government's recent talk of examining assistance for younger carers through the McClure Welfare Review, including the potential for restricting eligibility or introducing mutual obligation requirements.
"If they are concerned about ensuring carers are able to participate in the workforce, they need to ensure better job services and flexible working arrangements are made available, rather than taking the heavy handed approach we have seen with Earn or Learn or Work for the Dole.
"Last week in Parliament I spoke to a number of inspirational young carers, many of whom were caring for their parents while putting themselves through school. We must protect and support carers as they balance work, carer responsibilities and their own lives.
"As the Government tries to force their cruel budget through the Parliament, it is clear that a number of their measures will impact carers and those who are receiving care, including cuts to the indexation of carer payments, the DSP and the aged pension. I am also concerned about the impact of the Government's plan to strip $240 million out of the Department of Social Services' discretionary grants program, and any further cuts emanating from the McClure Review.
"The Greens will maintain their robust opposition to the Government's unfair budget and continue to work to address inequality across the community," Senator Siewert concluded.