Carers’ voice lost in concession review

Carers NT CEO Steve Vitone has raised concern that the needs of the Territory’s estimated 30,000 carers may be overlooked in the NT Government’s review of its Pensioner and Carer Concession Scheme.

“While we understand that a review of the scheme is necessary, any changes need to be balanced against the needs of carers and ensure that they are not disadvantaged.

“Unpaid carers play a significant role in our community, something that is sadly often overlooked.

“Anyone, at anytime, can become a carer. We must be diligent in recognising that carers come from all walks of life, and at different stages of their lives. This includes young people, single parents, siblings and seniors,” Mr Vitone said.

As an example, Mr Vitone referred to the example of a single parent who has communicated to him worried about changes to the scheme.

“This is a person who would like to continue their studies, to improve their situation while caring for a child with a disability.But changes in the concession scheme could make study or employment unviable for them.We must be careful not to disadvantage carers who want to continue their education, maintain or gain employment,” he said.

“I’m not sure why a carer, that is able to study or gain employment, is not entitled to the carer concession, they still care for their loved one, even if they are not on a carers payment.”

In June this year the Minister for Territory Families stated in Parliament that the NT Pensioner Concession Unithad “started restricting access for new membership to the scheme for those in receipt of the carer allowance unless they were eligible by other means.”

“What will be the cost to our community if we lose the valuable contribution unpaid carers make? We must be diligent in caring for their rights and support mechanisms,” Mr Vitone stressed.

Carers NT encourages all registered carers to participate in the consultation process and is working with the Government to ensure that the voice of carers is heard.

A community forum for the Concession Review will be held at Carers NT on Thursday, 10 August, all carers are welcome to attend.

“Nobody plans to become an unpaid family carer, however, the birth of a child with a disability; an injury due to an accident or trauma; the onset of a chronic or mental illness; or the development of frailty means that anyone could become an unpaid carer. We must ensure that the Concession Scheme moving forward is equitable and accessible for all Territorians who require this support, and will not disadvantage those members of our communities who are caring for loved ones and friends.”

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