Disability Services Minister Kevin Minson today announced more than $500,000 in funding for initiatives aimed at helping the 127,000 Western Australians who care for a relative or friend with a disability.
Mr Minson was launching the new Southern Respite Service at Rocky Bay which is receiving $496,761 in recurrent State Government funding.
The respite service will enable carers to take a break from duties which are often an around-the-clock job.
As part of the ongoing commitment from the State Government to assist carers, Mr Minson also announced funding of $55,000 to establish a taskforce to identify ways to offer practical help in this area.
"The funding comes from the Count Us In package announced by Premier Richard Court in April this year which provided an additional $125 million in new funding for disability services," Mr Minson said.
"It is fitting to launch both these projects in tandem with Carers' Week as both are centred around supporting families in this role.
"Almost three quarters of the help needed by Western Australia's 300,000 people with disabilities is provided by an informal help network of family and friends.
"The number of people in our community caring for a family member or friend with a disability equals the combined population of Kalgoorlie/Boulder, Bunbury, Albany, Geraldton, Port Hedland, Broome and Esperance.
"Carers' Week is a time when the voluntary help provided by these dedicated people gets the public recognition it warrants but all too infrequently receives.
"Carers do a marvellous job which is often unrecognised. As a group they are the backbone of the system. They ask for very little and give so much."
Mr Minson said it was past time carers received some assistance in return for their work and that the provision of respite services for people living in the southern metropolitan region would provide that help.
The Minister also announced the Caring for Carers strategy which would be developed by the new taskforce as part of the Disability Services Commission's five-year business plan.
"The taskforce will be chaired by Dr Warren Louden whose personal experience of the needs of carers will be invaluable," he said.
Dr Louden is a former director general of education in Western Australian and has a daughter with a disability.
"Through the taskforce, the Government is underlining its commitment to carers and the vital role they play with practical action," Mr Minson said.
"The need for help is clear and this strategy will provide concrete, practical answers to some of the problems commonly faced in this area.
"In this way we hope to also give carers the space and support to meet their own personal and emotional needs and a little peace of mind."
Media contact: Caroline Lacy 015 083 526 or pager 016 981 795
Tanya Coli, Disability Services Commission 018 946 126