Carer Allowance income test

The government is implementing an income test on the Carers Allowance which will affect approximately 9,000 carers who have a household income of $250,000 or more.

If you or your partner receive another Government payment, such as Carer Payment, Age Pension, Disability Support Pension, Newstart Allowance, or the Family Tax Benefit, it is likely that Centrelink already has information about your family income. However, if the only Government payment you are receiving is the Carer Allowance, Centrelink has probably asked you for information about your household income.

Carers have contacted Carers Australia with their concerns about the review, including not knowing their household income, having difficulties accessing online services or lodging their forms, or not being contacted by Centrelink and being worried their payments would be cancelled.

Carers Australia has engaged with the government since the start of the review to ask for solutions to these concerns, with the government working to make the process easy and ensuring more steps are taken to contact carers who need to complete the review.

To complete the income forms, carers need either the information included on their tax returns or, if a tax return has not been lodged, an estimate of household income. The forms can be submitted online, by post, or at a Centrelink office. Importantly, carers now have until 30 June 2019 to submit their review forms, and Centrelink will continue to send reminders by mail and text messages.

If you have not been asked for this information, and you do not receive any other income-tested government payments, you should check your MyGov account for correspondence from Centrelink or contact Centrelink’s Disability and Carer line on 132 717.


Budget submission

The Australian Government has called for submissions on policies to be considered for the 2019/20 Federal Budget. Carers Australia will be highlighting grave concerns about the adequacy of funding for the new model of Integrated Carer Support Services to be introduced from October 2019. Other elements of the submission will include requests to:

• develop a new National Carer Strategy to better support carers across Government programs and agencies
• increase respite care opportunities in aged residential care facilities, including by improving funding and other incentives for providers
• reduce waiting lists for Home Care packages by increasing the number of places available, especially for those needing higher levels of care
• improve supports for carers of working age, including by providing better access to services to help them transition from caring to paid work, and easing work and study requirements for carers who receive Newstart Allowance and other jobseeker payments but not Carer Payment
• Offering a first, and less formal, process for external review for NDIA decisions with initial reviews heard in a less adversarial division of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

The Carers Australia submission will be lodged in early February and will be available on our website.


Final chance to enter Your Story Matters

The Your Story Matters competition is closing soon. Young carers have until 10 February to submit their caring story on the Young Carers Network Story Wall for their chance to win two movie tickets.

We’ve already received some great stories and the Story Wall is a wonderful resource for learning more about young carers and hearing about a variety of different caring experiences from those in the role.

To help you share your story, we’ve developed an online Story Builder - a simple form that asks key questions and then generates a story based on your responses. Make sure you get your stories in before the competition closes on 10 February to enjoy a night at the movies on us


Australians with disabilities twice as likely to be evicted without cause

People with disabilities who rent are almost twice as likely to experience “no-grounds” eviction compared with other Australians, new research shows.

The report by Choice, National Shelter and the National Association of Tenant Organisations also found renters with disabilities faced a range of barriers which prevented them from securing rental accommodation. These included difficulties in getting timely repairs, facing additional expenses when moving, and experiencing more issues with their landlords compared to other renters.

Erin Turner, the director of campaigns and communications at Choice, has called for strong consumer protections for people with disabilities.

“There are good landlords who are kind, compassionate and accommodating for people with disabilities – let’s make that the standard,” she said.


Coles expands its autism-friendly Quiet Hour nationwide

Coles is expanding its autism-friendly Quiet Hour to 173 stores following successful trials last year. The program, which was developed in partnership with Autism Spectrum Australia, is set to be expanded to additional stores in all states and territories over the coming months.

During Quiet Hour, lighting is reduced, store music is switched off, register and scanning volume is reduced to the lowest level and PA announcements are stopped except in emergencies. Trolley collections are also paused and additional customer service staff will be on hand to offer assistance.

The initiative runs every Tuesday from 10:30am to 11:30am.


Study finds carers unprepared for end-of-life decisions

Dementia carers require more support and guidance to navigate the end-of-life care for their loved one, a new international study has found.

The research, conducted by Advance Care Planning Australia (ACPA), found anxiety about death, reluctance to confront cognitive decline and the fear of being locked into an inflexible pathway of care are some of the barriers preventing carers from making end-of-life decisions for the person they care for.

“This underscores the pressing need to upskill the community, carers, aged care providers and health professionals so that more Australians are empowered to receive the care they want – whatever the future holds,” said medical director of ACPA Dr Karen Detering.

Carers needing support can contact the Carers Advisory Hotline on 1800 242 636.


Rare diseases focus of new federal government support plan

The federal government will establish Australia’s first National Rare Diseases Framework and Action plan to support people with rare conditions such as Batten disease, muscular dystrophy and mitochondrial disease.

An estimated 6-8% of Australians are affected by one of these life-threatening conditions and almost half of those are children. Many of these conditions are untreatable and can take years to correctly diagnose because there are so few patients with the condition.

“Our government recognises the fact that these diseases are statistically rare – with an estimated prevalence of five in 10,000 – therefore special and concerted efforts are needed to address them,” said Health Minister Greg Hunt.