Recently, there has been a lot of media coverage on the Federal Government’s Budget which was released on Tuesday 9th May 2017 and will be in effect for the next four years. The Federal Government makes decisions that affect the whole country. So, this budget will affect all Australians.
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Whilst the budget does not mention young carers specifically, there are a number of areas where young carers could be affected including education and the rivulet effect of the budget on their families and care recipients.
The official WA budget website, budget.gov.au, states: “We choose to prioritise the essential services that Australians rely on, especially our most vulnerable, by funding our share of important services in health care, housing, disability support, education and employment.”
Official Budget Website
There are educational impacts for primary, secondary and tertiary students.
$18.6 funding will be given to schools over the next ten years, starting in 2018, with the money to be distributed on a needs-basis. A media release published on the 2nd of May promised that:
“This bold plan will transform Australian schools. It will set Australian students on the path to academic excellence and achieve real needs-based funding for students from all backgrounds, in every town and city, in every region and state, in every classroom.” David Gonski AC will lead the research on the best way to use this funding and give in his report by 1st December 2017.
Enabling courses will be replaced, by a 1.8% increase per year over the next four years, in the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP). Enabling can courses help to bridge the gap between secondary and university education, amongst other things. Being in a caring role can have educational impacts on a young carer: some families have financial difficulties in paying for books, school fees, excursions and tutors. The caring role itself can result in poor concentration at school because of lack of sleep or worry over the care recipient.
Says Ara Cresswell, CEO of Carers Australia, “The impact of these combined circumstances on their educational participation is immense and this educational disadvantage is likely to undermine their employment prospects and other aspects of their wellbeing later in life.”
The Young Carers Bursary grant can help reduce these impacts and the government has confirmed that funding for this grant will continue in 2018.
Young carers will also be affected by the changes the budget makes to Medicare and the NDIS.
According to YACWA (Youth Affairs Council of WA) “The Government will increase the Medicare levy by half a percentage point from 2.0 to 2.5 per cent of taxable income from 1 July 2019 to ensure the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is fully funded. The Government will use all revenue generated by the Medicare levy to support the National Disability Insurance Scheme and to guarantee Medicare.” Those who earn $21, 655 are exempt from this.
Federal Budget Review by YACWA
What this means for the family of a young carer is that they may both be paying the levy and benefiting from the NDIS. Young Carers WA has not heard of any consistent support offered to young carers through the NDIS and in fact, has come across a case where the family was unable to continue to receive the support to the young carer because of the services that they were receiving for the care recipient through the NDIS.
However, this does mean more future support for Australians living with a disability. It is possible that support outside the family for a care recipient will mean less of an impact on the family carers, including young carers. There are still two years to wait until this is implemented, though.
The budget release is complex and how it will affect young carers, their care recipients and their families is an area for deeper research and consideration. The report can be seen at budget.gov.au.
If you are a carer, Young Carers WA would like to hear about your perspective on the changes brought about by the latest budget. You can email Carers WA through the Contact Form on this website. All issues raised are logged by our Carers WA Advisory Department and Carers WA uses this information to lobby for government change that supports carers.