What is the Carers Recognition Act 2021?
The Carers Recognition Act 2021 is a Private Members Bill. It has been formally introduced before the ACT Legislative Assembly on the 23rd of June 2021, after consultation and community feedback since January. The purpose of the Act is to recognise, promote and value the role carers have within our community as well as put in place measures that will require entities and organisations to consider and adapt business practices to support the care relationship that exists between carers and the people they care for.
How does the Act Recognise, Promote and Value Carers?
The Act establishes a set of principles relating to supporting people in care relationships and requirements for carer and care support agencies to uphold and report on compliance with the care relationship principles. The Care Relationship Principles consider the treatment of carers, the treatment of people being cared for and the treatment of people in a care relationship.
Why is this Act needed?
Carers are some of the most selfless people in our community and while they work very hard supporting those within our community who need care. The work of carers is often unrecognised and carers themselves often do not receive the support they need to carry out their caring responsibilities or receive the support they need to look after themselves. Better recognition of carers and their needs will improve support to carers which will in turn improve the health and wellbeing of carers in our community.
Do other States and Territories have a similar Act?
All other States and Territories and the Commonwealth have a Carers Recognition Act, although each act differs depending on the specific needs of each jurisdiction.
What is a care relationship?
A care relationship occurs when one person (a carer) provides care to another person because the other person has a disability, a mental illness, an ongoing medical condition, is aged or frail or is a child or young person in a kinship care or foster care arrangement. The carer in the care relationship is often a family member, or a friend and the care they provide is unpaid and undertaken on an ongoing basis.
Is someone contracted to provide care to another person in a care relationship?
A care relationship is focused on the informal care provided by one person to another. Paid care such as a nurse or a disability support worker would not be considered a care relationship under the scope of this act because it is contractual in nature. Likewise, just because you live with or are related to a person who needs care or work at a welfare or community organisation it does not mean you are automatically part of a care relationship.
What will organisations be required to do under the Act?
Under the Act care and carer support agencies must take all practicable measures to ensure that employees and people receiving care support from the agency are aware of and understand the care relationship principles, that the agency and employees uphold the care principles, consult with people in a care relationship when updating policies and procedures and consider the care relationship in relation to the agencies own employees. Care and carer support agencies will also need to report on their compliance with their obligations under the act.
The Carers Recognition Act 2021 delivers on an ACT Labor Election Commitment to introduce legislation to recognise carers and is part of the Parliamentary Agreement under Appendix 3: ACT Labor Policy Platform for the 10th Assembly item 17.5