Reverend the Hon. Dr GORDON MOYES: I direct my question to the Minister for Community Services. Is it a fact that 2.3 million Australians care for chronically ill or frail loved ones, that 79 per cent of primary carers are looking after a person in the same household, and that 40 per cent of carers have provided care for more than 10 years? Is it also a fact that many long-term carers are growing older and working themselves into the grave as a result of the stress of providing care or caring for a loved one who is overweight or generally difficult to move, as outlined in a study recently released by the Ohio State University demonstrating that the stress of nursing a loved one causes premature ageing of their own immune system? As most care support in New South Wales is provided by non-government agencies, what is the Government doing to improve financial support for the non-government sector so that it might provide support for the health of those who are suffering and their carers?
The Hon. CARMEL TEBBUTT: I am sure that all honourable members acknowledge that the role of carers is significant. They provide an enormous amount of support to older people and people with a disability. The number of carers has grown significantly in recent years, with one in eight people in New South Wales providing care to friends, family members or others in the community who are frail or who have a disability or an illness. The New South Wales Government is proud of the important role it has played in recognising the role that carers play. It has established the New South Wales Care for Carers Program, which is jointly managed by the Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care and NSW Health. An additional $12.9 million has been allocated over four years to provide further services to carers to strengthen existing measures designed to support carers and to promote the broader community's support for carers.
I also point out that in the recent budget there was a significant enhancement for respite services of some $11 million over four years, once again to provide additional support to carers in accessing respite services in New South Wales. The issue of carers requires commitment from both State and Federal governments. For example, financial support for carers is solely a Federal Government responsibility. However, the State Government acknowledges that it plays a very important role in supporting carers and putting in place arrangements to ensure that carers can continue their very important role of caring for loved ones, while at the same time having a satisfactory quality of life.
The Hon. MICHAEL EGAN: If members have further questions, I suggest that they either wait until tomorrow or place them on notice.