Online version of the 2013-14 Department of Health Annual Report

3.7: Carer Recognition and Addressing Disability

We are committed to recognising and supporting staff who have caring responsibilities

Page last updated: 17 July 2019

Carer Recognition Act 2010

The Carer Recognition Act 2010, which came into effect on 18 November 2010, reflects the Australian Government’s commitment to deliver the first element of the National Carer Recognition Framework. The Act aims to increase recognition and awareness of the role carers play in providing daily care and support to people with disability, medical conditions, mental illness or who are frail aged.

The criteria below measure the Department’s compliance with the Act and the responses provide an overall assessment of performance in 2013-14.

Measures taken by the Department to ensure employees and agents have an awareness and understanding of the Statement for Australia’s Carers [Part 3 s7(1)]

The Department has been a Care Aware Workplace under the National Carer Awareness Initiative since October 2012, reflecting its commitment to recognising and supporting carers in the workplace.

The Department conducts information sharing activities for staff during Carers Week which aim to raise the profile of carers. Departmental Carers Week activities included a national discussion with Departmental Carers, an information session, morning teas and the display of Carers Week promotional material.

Department’s Internal Human Resource Policies, so far as they may Significantly Affect an Employee’s Caring Role, are to be Developed Having Due Regard to the Statement for Australia’s Carers [Part 3 s7(2)]

The Health Enterprise Agreement 2011-2014 and employment guidelines support staff with their caring responsibilities. Entitlements and initiatives which assist these staff include:

  • paid and unpaid carers leave available for a range of reasons, such as meeting family responsibilities and providing care and support to family or household members;
  • the ability to purchase up to six weeks additional leave per calendar year;
  • the Improving Wellness and Motivation in the Workplace Initiative that aims to help staff better balance their work and caring responsibilities;
  • family care rooms to enable staff to carry out aspects of their normal duties while caring for dependants, as an alternative to taking personal/carers leave;
  • appropriate facilities to undertake breastfeeding, lactation and associated activities for mothers returning to work after maternity leave;
  • family care assistance to meet reasonable costs incurred by staff for family care arrangements where they are required by the Department to be away from their household outside the standard working day;
  • an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) which offers counselling for staff and their family to assist with work or personal issues; and
  • flexible working arrangements, such as part time employment, flextime and home-based work, to help accommodate the needs of staff with caring responsibilities.

Measures Taken to Ensure that Employees and Agents take Action to Reflect the Principles of the Statement for Australia’s Carers in Developing, Implementing, Providing or Evaluating Care Supports [Part 3 s8(1)]

The Australian Government recognises that mental health is important for the Australian community and is committed to ensuring that mental health services are delivered as efficiently and effectively as possible. It has tasked the National Mental Health Commission to assess all existing mental health programmes across the Government, non-government and private sectors.

The review will assess the efficiency and effectiveness of programmes and services in supporting individuals experiencing mental ill health and their families and other support people. This process will ensure services are being properly targeted at patients, are not being duplicated, and are not being unnecessarily burdened by red tape. The final report is due to be provided to Government at the end of November 2014.

Measures previously undertaken by the Department relating to ageing are no longer reported here, as responsibility for aged care was transferred to the Department of Social Services.

Consult Carers or Bodies that Represent Carers when Developing or Evaluating Care Supports [Part 3 s8(2)]

Carers Australia and the Consumers Health Forum were consulted in the development of the Community Pharmacy Charter under the Fifth Community Pharmacy Agreement signed in 2010.

The Charter provides information on the rights of consumers and responsibilities of pharmacists, and the level of service consumers can expect to receive when visiting a community pharmacy. The Charter must be displayed in Section 90 Community Pharmacies68 which are accredited through a nationally recognised pharmacy accreditation programme. Currently, 90 per cent of all Section 90 pharmacies are accredited.

A number of medication management services are funded under the Fifth Community Pharmacy Agreement. These include the Home Medicines Review (HMR), Residential Medication Management Review (RMMR) and MedsCheck/Diabetes MedsCheck services. These services aim to optimise quality use of medicines and reduce rates of medication misadventure in the Australian Community.

A HMR or RMMR service must be initiated by a GP. However if the patient, their carer or other health professional involved in the patient’s care considers that the patient would benefit from the service, they can bring this to the GP’s attention. The patient’s carer or advocate may also be present during the HMR or RMMR service to facilitate, as required.

A MedsCheck/Diabetes MedsCheck service does not need to be initiated by the GP. A consumer or their carer may request this service if they meet the relevant eligibility criteria.

The National Disability Strategy

Since 1994, Commonwealth Departments and agencies have reported on their performance as policy adviser, purchaser, employer, regulator and provider under the Commonwealth Disability Strategy. In 2007-08, reporting on the employer role was transferred to the Australian Public Service Commission’s State of the Service Report and the APS Statistical Bulletin. These reports are available at www.apsc.gov.au From 2010-11, Departments and agencies have no longer been required to report on these functions.

The Commonwealth Disability Strategy has been overtaken by a new National Disability Strategy 2010-2020 which sets out a ten year national policy framework to improve the lives of people with disability, promote participation and create a more inclusive society. A high level two-yearly report will track progress against each of the six outcome areas of the Strategy and present a picture of how people with disability are faring. The first of these reports will be available in late 2014, and will be available at www.dss.gov.au

Protocol for engaging with people with disability in the development and delivery of Department business

The National Disability Strategy requires all levels of Government to work collaboratively with people with disability in the development of programmes, policies and systems that affect people with disabilities. This includes engaging with representative organisations, families and carers, community service providers, advocacy and other organisations.

Under the Strategy, all Commonwealth agencies agreed to develop protocols for engaging with disability in the development of policy and programmes. During 2013-14, the Department developed a new Protocol for engaging with people with disability in the development and delivery of department business.

The protocol outlines the Department’s obligations under the Strategy, and identifies and promotes strategies that improve accessibility and responsiveness of our policies, programmes and services. The protocol includes relevant external and internal policy considerations and case studies to demonstrate the application of health programmes to people with disability. The protocol also includes guidance for engaging with Indigenous Australians with disability.

Launched on 1 July 2014, the protocol was developed in consultation with the Disability and Diversity champions and the Department’s Staff Disability and Diversity Networks.

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