Unpaid carers will benefit from a new early-intervention service model announced by the Federal Government. The new service is a fundamental shift from the current service delivery model, which is largely crisis-driven, costly and reactive. It has been developed to help carers get the support they need early, before reaching a crisis point. According to the government, evidence shows that early-intervention, prevention and building carer’s skills leads to better long-term outcomes and improved well-being for carers.

It will be rolled out in two stages and is intended to address some of the fragmentation of existing services following the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

The first stage, starting in October 2018, is when carers will be able to access the new services through the government’s Carer Gateway website, including peer support, counselling, coaching and educational resources. The second stage, begins in September 2019, with a network of Regional Delivery Partners in place to help carers access a range of local services such as needs assessments, targeted financial support, information and advice, tailored counselling and coaching and crisis support where required. Carers can continue to access support through their usual service providers until the network is set up.

To provide the additional funding for the new measures, the government is introducing a $250,000 family income threshold to the Carer Allowance Payment, aligning it with other welfare payments. Around 90 per cent of Carer Allowance recipients will have no change to their payment under the new scheme.

In welcoming the announcement, Carers Australia CEO Ara Cresswell said: “For some years now Carers Australia and other carer service providers have been working with the Department of Social Services to design a more integrated and nationally consistent model of delivering services to Australia’s 2.8 million family and friend carers. While not all carers need special support services in their own right to meet the challenges they face in their caring role, a great many do”.