Online version of the 2014-15 Department of Health Annual Report

3.7: Carer Recognition and Addressing Disability

We are committed to recognising and supporting staff who have caring responsibilities

Page last updated: 17 July 2019

Carer Recognition Act 2010

The Carer Recognition Act 2010 (the Act) reflects the Australian Government’s commitment to increasing recognition and awareness of the vital role that unpaid carers play in providing daily care and support to people with disability, medical conditions, mental illness or who are frail and aged. The Act places a range of reporting and consultation obligations on those Australian Public Service entities who have responsibility for the development, implementation, provision or evaluation of policies, programmes or services directed to carers or the persons for whom they care.

The criteria below measure the Department’s compliance with the Act and the responses provide an overall assessment of performance in 2014-15.

Measures taken by the Department to ensure employees and agents have an awareness and understanding of the Statement for Australia’s Carers [Part 3 section 7(1)]

The Department participates as a Care Aware Workplace under the National Carer Awareness Initiative, with this participation reflecting the Department’s ongoing commitment to recognising and supporting carers in the workplace.

The Department conducts awareness initiatives including the Departmental Carers Week which includes activities such as information sessions, morning teas and the display of Carers Week promotional material.

Department’s Internal Human Resource Policies, so far as they may Significantly Affect an Employee’s Caring Role, are to be Developed Having Due Regard to the Statement for Australia’s Carers [Part 3 section 7(2)]

The Department’s human resource policies and guidelines comply with the principles expressed in the Statement for Australian Carers. The Department offers staff members a range of provisions to assist them with their caring responsibilities, including:

  • access to a flexible working arrangements, such as part-time employment, flex-time and home-based work
  • an Employee Assistance Programme which offers counselling for staff and their family to assist with work or personal issues
  • paid and unpaid carers leave for various reasons, such as meeting family responsibilities and providing care and support to family or household members
  • assistance to meet reasonable additional family care costs incurred as a result of the Department requiring the staff member to be away from their household outside of their standard day
  • the ability to purchase up to six weeks additional leave per calendar year
  • access to family care rooms in the workplace to enable staff to carry out work while caring for dependants, as an alternative to taking personal/carers leave
  • providing appropriate facilities to enable mothers returning to work after maternity leave to undertake breastfeeding, lactation and associated activities.

Measures Taken to Ensure that Employees and Agents take Action to Reflect the Principles of the Statement for Australia’s Carers in Developing, Implementing, Providing or Evaluating Care Supports [Part 3 section 8(1)]

The Australian Government recognises the contribution that carers make to the Australian community by providing unpaid care and support to family and friends who are diagnosed with a life-limiting condition and require palliative care. The Department provides funding to Carers Australia to deliver a series of workshops to train counsellors and other people to better support carers who are caring for someone with palliative care needs. These workshops focus on the needs of general counsellors, social workers and case managers who deliver services to carers providing end of life care.

The Department also supports training programmes that assist health professionals and other carers to improve the quality of palliative care they provide to aged persons in the community.

Measures previously undertaken by the Department relating to ageing are no longer reported here, as responsibility for aged care was transferred to the Department of Social Services during 2013-14.

Consult Carers or Bodies that Represent Carers when Developing or Evaluating Care Supports [Part 3 section 8(2)]

The Australian Government is committed to developing a more effective and efficient mental health system that improves the lives of Australians with a mental illness and their families. That is why the Government tasked the National Mental Health Commission to undertake a review of all existing services (the Review).

The final report of the Review, Contributing lives, thriving communities, presents an ambitious plan for broad, long-term reform of the mental health system. A consultative and collaborative approach has been taken to progressing the Government’s long-term response to the Review. The Government is working with States and Territories, experts and representatives from the mental health sector, including those representing carers, to inform this response.

The National Disability Strategy

Since 1994, Australian Government departments and entities have reported on their performance as policy adviser, purchaser, employer, regulator and provider under the Commonwealth Disability Strategy. In 2007-08, reporting on the employer role was transferred to the Australian Public Service Commission’s State of the Service Report and the APS Statistical Bulletin. These reports are available at the Australian Public Service Commission website. From 2010-11, departments and entities have no longer been required to report on these functions.

The Commonwealth Disability Strategy has been overtaken by a new National Disability Strategy 2010-2020 which sets out a ten year national policy framework to improve the lives of people with disability, promote participation and create a more inclusive society. A high level two-yearly report will track progress against each of the six outcome areas of the Strategy and present a picture of how people with disability are faring. More information on the National Disability Strategy is available at the Department of Social Services website.

Protocol for engaging with people with disability in the development and delivery of Department business

The National Disability Strategy requires all levels of Government to work collaboratively with people with disability in the development of programmes, policies and systems that affect people with disabilities. This includes engaging with representative organisations, families and carers, community service providers, advocacy and other organisations.

Under the Strategy, all Australian Government entities agreed to develop protocols for engaging with disability in the development of policy and programmes. The Department launched its Protocol for engaging with people with disability in the development and delivery of department business on 1 July 2014. It is available on the Department’s intranet as part of a manager’s toolkit for procurement, grants and people management.

The protocol outlines the Department’s obligations under the Strategy, and identifies and promotes strategies that improve accessibility and responsiveness of our policies, programmes and services. The protocol includes relevant internal and external policy considerations and case studies to demonstrate the application of health programmes to people with disability. The protocol also includes guidance for engaging with Indigenous Australians with disability.

More information in relation to the Department’s activities to support staff with a disability is provided in Part 3.4: People Management.

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