Caring for the Carers: an exploration of how the new family carers policy is affecting families caring for disabled relatives

Consultations Unpacked Background Paper

Caring for the Carers

an exploration of how the new family carers policy is affecting families caring for disabled relatives

a Dunedin Council of Social Services (DCOSS) &
Dunedin Community Law Centre (DCLC) Community Forum

Friday 2 May 2014 12 – 1.30pm
Dunedin Community House

In October 2013 the government released a Budget package that would enable some family carers to receive payment for looking after family members. The package was formulated in response to a Court of Appeal decision that a policy of not paying family carers to provide support services to family members living with disabilities constituted discrimination, on the basis of family status. The 2013 Budget provides $23 million a year to pay carers who look after a disabled family members aged 18 years or older who are assessed as having high, or very high needs. Funding enables payment at the minimum wage.

Eligible people can employ a family carer to provide personal care and household management, or continue to use a commercial provider.

The decision was hailed as a step in the right direction, but was not without criticism:

  • Concern has been expressed at the high & very high needs eligibility criteria.
  • There is disappointment that spouses and partners of disabled people are excluded from the scheme.

  • The new legislation (NZ Public Health and Disability Amendment Act 2013) states that people can no longer bring unlawful discrimination complaints about the new law or family care policy to the Human Rights Commission.
  • Some family members leave good paying jobs and take a cut in pay to care for a family member at the minimum wage rate.

Other concerns which have been informally raised include issues around professional development opportunities, support for family carers and the vulnerability of carers in terms of employment rights.

The forum is interested in hearing local stories about how the new family carers policy is affecting families caring for disabled relatives.

What is working? What is not working?

Sources and links for further information

Ministry of Social Development: The New Zealand Carers’ Strategy Action Plan for 2014 to 2018

www.msd.govt.nz/about-msd-and-our-work/work-programmes/policy-development/carers-strategy/

New Zealand Herald: Editorial

www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10884930

NZ Public Health and Disability Amendment Act 2013

www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/2013/0022/latest/whole.html

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