May 18, 2023

State funding extension needed to support unpaid carers

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Laurie with his wife and full-time carer, Billie. [Souce: VMCH]

Carer support providers are urging the Victorian State Government to commit to extending financial support for unpaid carers in next week’s State Budget.

The Victorian Government committed to support unpaid carers with $42 million worth of additional care respite over four years in its 2019-20 State Budget, a scheme due to end on June 30. 

Victoria’s largest provider of respite support for carers fears for the future of the vulnerable people it supports if funding is cut in the upcoming 2023/24 Victorian State Budget.

For-purpose aged and disability services organisation, VMCH, supports 975 unpaid carers of loved ones living with dementia, disability, mental health and age-related issues and is backing a Carer’s Victoria pre-budget submission to seek funding on a recurrent basis.

“Without this funding, we would be forced to exit carers from the program, which would be absolutely devastating. We see first-hand every day the difference this support makes to their lives and we fear for their wellbeing should this funding be cut.”

Many carers often experience carers’ burnout and funding allows organisations like VMCH to offer a much-needed break from their caring roles with social activities, events and other supports so they can carry on doing the vital work of caring.

Unpaid carers are a huge portion of the carer demographic – an economics report found the work of unpaid carers in Australia equates to almost $78 billion a year.

Billie Kempton, aged 83, is a full-time carer for her husband Laurie, also 82, who has Lewy Body Dementia. He has been accessing VMCH’s Carer Support Program for seven years.

“Going to things like social outings with other carers is fantastic because you’re with people who really understand,” he said.

“It’s one of the best things you could ask for, it really is.”

Maria cares for her husband who lives with severe depression and also values the importance of social gatherings to help her debrief with people who share similar experiences. 

“You feel like you can connect and feel comfortable opening up. You go home and think, ‘I’m not the only one’,” she said.

The 2023-2024 Victorian State Budget will be delivered on Tuesday.

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