The Carer Recognition Act 2010 sets out the Statement for Australia’s Carers, which establishes the principle that carers should have the same rights, choices and opportunities as other Australians. The Act also includes reporting and consultation obligations for certain Australian Public Service agencies.
Awareness and understanding
Section 7(1) of the Carer Recognition Act requires each public service agency to ‘take all practicable measures to ensure that its employees and agents have an awareness and understanding of the Statement for Australia’s Carers’.
DVA's employment policies articulate the requirement to make employees aware of their obligations under the Act.
DVA provides respite services to members of the veteran community and their carers through the Veterans’ Home Care program. The program’s procedure manuals for assessment agencies and service providers refer to the rights of carers and the Statement for Australia’s Carers.
Open Arms—Veterans & Families Counselling (Open Arms) (formerly known as Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service) provides relationship and family counselling to veterans, their families and those who face the unique challenges of caring for those exposed to the military lifestyle.
The new Family Support Package for veterans and their families, which came into effect from 1 May 2018, provides additional support for families of Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 veterans.
Information for carers, including links to the contact details for a range of carer service, is provided on DVA's website (www.dva.gov.au/carers).
Human resource policies
Section 7(2) of the Carer Recognition Act requires each public service entity’s internal human resource policies, so far as they may significantly affect an employee’s caring role, to be developed with due regard for the Statement for Australia’s Carers.
DVA supports staff with caring responsibilities and considers the principles contained in the statement when developing human resource policies.
The DVA Enterprise Agreement 2019–22 provides access to a range of paid and unpaid leave as well as flexible working arrangements for employees who have to balance work and caring responsibilities. Those provisions include personal leave for caring purposes, miscellaneous leave, flex time and part-time work.
DVA's human resource practitioners support managers and employees who have caring responsibilities by assisting them to access relevant provisions under the enterprise agreement, resources from the Families at Work information service and counselling services from the Employee Assistance Program.
Reflecting the principles
Section 8(1) of the Carer Recognition Act requires each public service agency to ‘take all practicable measures to ensure that it, and its employees and agents, take action to reflect the principles of the Statement for Australia’s Carers in developing, implementing, providing or evaluating care supports’.
A carer awareness self-paced learning package is available for download from DVA’s website as support material for all interested individuals and organisations, including contracted service providers. The package assist in understanding the issues and needs of carers, the Carer Recognition Act and how to comply with the legislation.
DVA's standard deed of agreement includes an obligation for contractors to comply with relevant laws and relevant Australian Government and departmental policies.
Consultation with carers
In order to meet requirements under section 8(2) of the Carer Recognition Act, public service care agencies are required to ‘consult carers, or bodies that represent carers, when developing or evaluating care supports’.
DVA conducts consultation with carers primarily through the DVA National Consultation Framework, which comprises national, state and territory forums. The national forums include the Ex-Service Organisation Round Table, which meets three times a year. The roundtable membership includes organisations that advocate for carers of veterans, such as the Partners of Veterans Association of Australia. Consultation focuses on policy, including carer issues policy; program matters; and the operations of DVA.
Additionally, the National Aged and Community Care Forum provides a platform for consulting carers by linking ex-service organisations, providers and DVA in the dissemination of information on health, aged and community care issues and mental and social health policy. It also contributes to developing and proposing better practice residential and community care arrangements for the ex-service community.