Rules for Australians who receive carer payments are set to change. Here’s what’s planned

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jun6,2024
The federal government has announced changes that will give more flexibility to people who provide care for a person with disability or severe medical condition, allowing them more freedom to determine their time spent working and studying while retaining their Carer Payment.

The Carer Payment is an income support payment, paid at the same rate as the age pension, that aims to counterbalance the barriers carers face when it comes to working engagements.

How is the Carer Payment changing?

Currently, people receiving the payment are limited to less than 25 hours of work, study or volunteering activities each week. Under new changes to be announced in the 2024-25 budget, they will instead be allowed up to 100 hours of work over a 4-week settlement period, allowing them more variability in their time spent at work from one week to the next.

“Under these changes, carers will have greater ability to flexibly manage their work commitments in a way that both fulfils their needs and the needs of the person they are caring for,” Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth said in a statement announcing the changes.
“We know many carers, but in particular carers of people with mental health conditions, frequently find care requirements can be fluctuating or episodic and that can make regular work or study a challenge.”

Education and volunteering activities will also be removed from the participation limit, in a bid to “support carers to build skills that can promote workforce participation”, according to a fact sheet released by the Department of Social Services.

While carers who exceed their participation hours limit under the current rules risk having their Carer Payment cancelled, they will instead have the payments suspended for up to six months under the new rules, meaning they won’t need to reapply to access the income support if their circumstances change.

What are the Carer Payment rates?

Carer Payments are made at the highest rate in recognition of the severity of the challenges carers face.

The current maximum basic rate for individuals on a Carer Payment is $1,020.60 per fortnight. Those in a couple are entitled to a maximum basic rate of $769.30 each per fortnight, while those in a couple who are separated due to ill health are entitled to a maximum basic rate of $1,116.30 per fortnight.

About 71 per cent of Carer Payment recipients are female, and about 7 per cent identify as First Nations.
“We’re committed to supporting Australia’s 2.65 million carers and ensuring if they want to work, study or volunteer they can more easily and flexibly do so,” the Department of Social Services said in its statement.
“We know carers often work fewer hours than they want to, with underemployment much more common among unpaid carers than the general population. Progressing with study or training can also be difficult.”

The changes, which are estimated to cost $18.6 million over five years, will start in 2025, subject to the passage of legislation.

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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2 thoughts on “Rules for Australians who receive carer payments are set to change. Here’s what’s planned”
  1. How will these changes affect the overall financial support for carers? Will there be adjustments to the Carer Payment amount based on the increased flexibility in work and study hours?

  2. As a caregiver myself, I believe these changes are long overdue. It’s crucial for carers to have the flexibility to balance work, studies, and caregiving responsibilities effectively. This adjustment will greatly benefit both the carers and the individuals they care for, ensuring a more sustainable caregiving system overall.

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