Summary

  • The Australian and Victorian governments offer a number of carer support services to people who provide care to someone with a disability or mental illness, with a medical condition, after an illness or accident, or who is an older person with care needs. Support is also available to carers of people with a terminal, life limiting illness.
  • Australian Government payments through Centrelink include the Carer Payment, Carer Allowance, Carer Supplement and Carer Adjustment Payment. Each have their own eligibility criteria.
  • The Victorian Government supports carers with various packages, programs and concessions (discounts) to ease the financial impact of their care role.
  • If you are receiving government payments, such as a carers allowance, remember to let Centrelink know if your circumstances change so your payment amounts can be adjusted.
 

In recognition of the vital role that carers play in our community, the Australian and Victorian Governments offer a number of carer support services to people who provide care to someone with a disability or mental illness, with a medical condition, after an illness or accident, or who is an older person with care needs. Support is also available to carers of people with a terminal, life limiting illness. Some of this carer support is provided as direct payments. Others are discounts or subsidies to purchase necessary aids, equipment or services.

Australian Government assistance

The Australian Government offers a number of carer payments and services to people who provide daily care to someone with a severe disability, mental illness, medical condition or terminal life-limiting illness, or an older person with care needs.

Carer Payment

The Carer Payment provides financial support to people who cannot work in substantial paid employment because they provide full-time daily care to someone with a severe disability, mental illness or medical condition, or terminal life-limiting illness, or to an older person with care needs.

You may be eligible to receive a Carer Payment if you:

  • provide constant care at home for someone with a severe disability, mental illness, medical condition or an older person with care needs
  • provide that care for a significant period (usually a minimum of six months)
  • satisfy a means test based on your income and assets.

For more information about the Carer Payment, visit the Australian Government Department of Human Services website.

Carer Allowance

The Carer Allowance is for carers who provide additional daily care to someone with a disability or medical condition, or an older person with care needs.

To be eligible to receive a Carer Allowance you must:

  • provide care every day for a dependent child aged under 16 years who has a disability or medical condition (the child must live with you), or
  • provide care every day for two dependent children with disabilities or medical conditions, who do not individually qualify for Carers Allowance but together have a substantial caring responsibility and live with you, or
  • provide care every day for a person aged 16 years or older who has a disability, medical condition, or who is frail aged, and
  • provide the care in either your home or the home of the person you are caring for.

The Carer Allowance is not means-tested, is not taxable and can be paid in addition to wages, the Carer Payment or any other Centrelink payment.

For more information about the Carer Allowance, visit the Australian Government Department of Human Services website.

Carer Supplement

If you are already receiving the Carers Payment or Carer Allowance, the Carer Supplement is an annual lump sum payment to help with the costs of caring for a person with a disability or medical condition.

You do not need to apply for the Carer Supplement. Centrelink will automatically make the payment into your bank account if you are eligible. A letter will be sent to people who receive the payment.

For more information about the Carer Supplement, visit the Australian Government Department of Human Services website.

Carer Adjustment Payment

The Carer Adjustment Payment is a one-off payment to help families deal with the increased costs of caring for a child aged six years or younger who has had a sudden and severe illness or accident.

To be eligible for the Carer Adjustment Payment you:

  • must provide full-time care for a child under seven years of age who has been diagnosed with a severe illness, medical condition or major disability following a catastrophic event (including a car accident, fall, fire, poisoning or other type of accident)
  • are required to provide care for a minimum of two months
  • must receive the Carer Allowance for the child and your partner must not be eligible for the Carer Payment or other income support payments
  • must have a very strong need for financial support immediately after the catastrophic event.

Claims for this payment must be submitted within two years from the date of diagnosis of a severe illness, medical condition or major disability following the catastrophic event.

For more information about the Carer Adjustment Payment, visit the Australian Government Department of Human Services website.

Child Disability Assistance Payment

The Child Disability Assistance Payment is an annual payment to help parents with the costs of caring for a child with a disability. 

You do not need to apply for the Child Disability Assistance Payment. Centrelink will automatically make the payment into your bank account if you are eligible.

For more information about the Child Disability Assistance Payment, visit the Australian Government Department of Human Services website.

Pensioner Education Supplement

The Pensioner Education Supplement helps students with the ongoing costs of full-time or part-time study in a secondary or tertiary course. To be eligible you must be:

  • studying in a secondary or tertiary course
  • already receiving a pension or payment
  • studying full time in an approved course, undertaking approved activities or, in some circumstances, studying part time.

For more information about the Pensioner Education Supplement, visit the Australian Government Department of Human Services website.

Other Commonwealth Government payments

The Continence Aids Payment Scheme helps people with permanent and severe incontinence to pay for incontinence products. To be eligible for this scheme you must:

  • have permanent or severe incontinence
  • be aged five years or older
  • not live in a high-care Australian Government-funded aged care home.

For more information about the Continence Aids Payment Scheme, visit the Australian Government Department of Human Services website.

The Essential Medical Equipment Payment helps with the additional costs of running essential medical equipment, medically required heating or cooling, or both.

You may be eligible for this payment if you or the person in your regular care at home:

  • are covered by a Commonwealth concession card issued by Centrelink or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs
  • provide proof that the specified equipment is medically required.

You may also need to prove that you, or the person you care for, contribute to the payment of the home energy account.

For more information about the Essential Medical Equipment Program, visit the Australian Government Department of Human Services website.

Victorian Government assistance

The Victorian Government also offers a number of programs to ease the financial strain of caring for a person with an ongoing medical condition, mental illness or a disability, or an older person with care needs.

Individual Support Packages for disability-related support

Individual Support Packages are funds allocated to a person to meet their disability-related support needs. The funds may be used to buy a range of disability-related supports chosen by the person to help them to achieve their goals. The funding may complement existing informal support arrangements from family and friends and generally available community services.

For more information about Individual Support Packages, visit the Victorian Government Department of Health & Human Services website.

Support for Carers Program (SCP)

The Support for Carers Program is a Victorian government program that supports carers of older people, older carers and carers of younger people with dementia. Using person-centred care and support, the Support for Carers Program seeks to:

  • meet short term higher level needs
  • provide short term top up services not available in the rest of the service system
  • offer innovative, flexible, timely and cost effective respite or other supports, goods and services.

Contact your closest regional office to find out about local Support for Carers service providers.

Aids and equipment

The Victorian Aids and Equipment Program (A&EP) provides people with a permanent or long-term disability with subsidised aids, equipment and home and vehicle modifications. The program includes access to equipment such as mobility aids (including wheelchairs and scooters), hoists, beds, commodes, continence aids, domiciliary oxygen and speech-generating devices and software.

Maximum subsidies apply to all items. You may need to provide some funding, where the maximum subsidy does not cover the full cost of an item.

For more information about the Victorian Aids and Equipment Program, visit the Victorian Government Department of Health & Human Services website.

Concessions and concession cards

In Victoria, most concessions and discounts are only available if you or the person you care for holds a current and eligible concession card from Centrelink or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

Government concessions help make essential services more affordable for low-income Victorian households and include discounts on council rates, water, energy and gas bills.

For more information about concession cards and other discounts, visit the Victorian Government Department of Health & Human Services website.

The Carers Card is a discounts and benefits card for unpaid primary carers in Victoria. The program has a wide range of discounts and benefits on offer from businesses, the local government and community organisations including free public transport on Sundays.

For more information visit the Carer Card website.

The Victorian Companion Card promotes the right of people with a disability including a permanent chronic illness to fair ticketing at Victorian events and venues. If the person you care for has a significant, permanent disability or permanent chronic illness that stops them from attending community activities and venues without care support, he or she can use the Companion Card to book or buy tickets for an attendant carer at no extra charge.

For more information visit the Companion Card website.

The Multi Purpose Taxi Program (MPTP) gives eligible people a 50 per cent discount off the standard fare of taxi rides. Carers, companions or family members may travel in the taxi with the MPTP member but only the person who is on the MPTP card can use the service. 

To be eligible, the person must:

  • be a permanent resident
  • live in Victoria
  • have a severe and permanent disability that their doctor deems as unlikely to get better with treatment
  • be unable to use public transport safely and independently. 

The person must also hold a Centrelink or Department of Veterans Affairs pension card or be able to show they are experiencing financial hardship.

For more information about the MPTP, visit the Taxi Service Commission

Changing circumstances and government payments

If you are receiving a benefit from the Australian Government, it is important to let the Australian Government Department of Human Services know if your circumstances change. If your role increases you might be entitled to more money. If it deceases you may be getting overpaid.

Most financial support arrangements allow periods of respite for the carer and make allowances for times the person you care for is in hospital. 

If the person dies, you may be entitled to a bereavement payment. In this case, you will need to get in touch with Centrelink for a review of your financial circumstances.

It is worth remembering that if you do not tell the department about changes to your circumstances within 14 days, and this results in you being overpaid, you will have to pay the extra money back.

For more information visit the Australian Government Department of Human Services website.

Where to get help 

  • Centrelink
  • Victorian Department of Health & Human Services
  • Australian Department of Human Services
  • Carers Victoria, call (03) 9396 9500

More information

Carers, caring and respite care services topics

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Support for carers

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This page has been produced in consultation with and approved by: Department of Health and Human Services

Last updated: October 2015

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