$92m to pay family carers of disabled adults

Health Budget 2013

The Government will provide $92 million over four years to pay carers who look after their own disabled adult family members with high or very high needs, Health Minister Tony Ryall says.

This is in response to the Court of Appeal’s decision in Ministry of Health v Atkinson and others.

“Our society expects parents to care for and support their dependent children,” Mr Ryall says. “But the Court of Appeal ruled that this ‘social contract’ does not extend to continuing to care for adult sons and daughters who have a lifelong disability.

“We recognise the important role of families in providing care and support to their disabled family members. This new policy is a significant investment in family care and will give more disabled people and their families more choice and control in the support they receive.”

Ministry of Health funding will now be available to around 1,600 disabled people with high and very high needs to pay some family members to provide personal care and household management. The estimated cost is $23 million a year.

“Disabled adults who meet the eligibility criteria will be able to choose whether they employ a family carer or continue to use a contracted provider.

“We need to balance the interests of those who are being cared for, the families, and the taxpayers. We are addressing the issue, but we must also be able to afford it,” Mr Ryall says.

“This adds to the extra $100 million the Government is spending on disability support services over the next four years to meet population changes and cost pressures, bringing the total investment to a record $1.1 billion next year.”

Legislation for the new policy will be introduced as Budget day legislation. It is expected the policy will take effect on 1 October 2013.