The Carer Recognition Act 2010 supports the important principle that carers should have the same rights, choices and opportunities as other Australians. Under the reporting and consultation obligations contained within the Act, the department is required to report on four key elements:
- awareness and understanding of the Statement for Australia’s Carers
- human resource policies
- reflecting the principles in the Statement for Australia’s Carers
- consultation with carers.
The department has a focus on working in partnership with the states and territories to support all children and young people—including those with caring responsibilities—to reach their full potential and contribute fully to the community. For instance, the Australian Education Act 2013 recognises that the quality of a student’s education should not be limited by his or her personal circumstances.
The department actively supports employees with caring responsibilities through the provision of information, resources and an employee assistance programme. When developing human resource policies, the department considers and complies with the principles contained in the Statement for Australia’s Carers. Employees in the department are covered by the provisions of two enterprise agreements preserved under a section 24(3) determination made under the Public Service Act 1999: the DEEWR Enterprise Agreement 2012–2014 and the One Innovation Enterprise Agreement 2011–2014. Both agreements incorporate special carers’ leave provisions. Information for employees about conditions available to carers under the enterprise agreements and a supporting leave guide are available on the department’s internal website. In addition the department provides carers rooms to provide facilities for unforeseen caring responsibilities.
The Diversity Unit in the People Branch works with managers, employees and service providers to support employees with a caring role, disability or cultural difference in the department. Departmental human resource practitioners regularly have conversations with employees with caring responsibilities to assist them to access respite and counselling services.
The department ensures that its employees and agents are aware of and understand the Statement for Australia’s Carers and its underlying principles. This includes working to make certain that all carers—and disadvantaged students and young people more broadly—are valued and respected and have rights, choices and opportunities to participate in learning and economic, social and community life. The terms and conditions in the department’s standard funding agreement include the obligation for funding recipients to comply with relevant laws and any Commonwealth policies, and to comply with any code of ethics, regulations or other industry standards relevant to the activity, such as the principles that relate to care supports.
The Australian Disability Clearinghouse on Education and Training website, funded under the Government’s Higher Education Disability Support Programme, provides information and resources in areas such as inclusive teaching, learning and assessment strategies, accommodation and support services in relation to post-secondary education, training and employment for disability practitioners, teachers and learning support staff as well as carers of people with disability.
The National Disability Coordination Officer ( NDCO) Programme funds a national network of 31 NDCOs across Australia. NDCOs assist people with disability to access and participate in tertiary education and subsequent employment by working with stakeholders at the local level to reduce systemic barriers, facilitate smooth transitions, build links and coordinate services between the education, training and employment sectors. These activities benefit people with disability and their carers by making local services more interlinked and accessible.
The department facilitates extensive consultations on an ongoing basis and when developing, implementing, providing or evaluating any policy or programme, which includes consultation with carer stakeholders wherever relevant.