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Unpaid Carers

25 May 2021

The Hon. J.A. DARLEY (14:47): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Health and Wellbeing questions on unpaid carers.

Leave granted.

The Hon. J.A. DARLEY: In October last year, Carers New South Wales, for Carers Australia, completed a national survey revealing a perception by carers of a lack of their inclusion and consideration in the health system. Nearly two-thirds of carers reported that hospitals did not ask them about their needs. Nearly 40 per cent did not consider hospitals provided sufficient information and nearly one-half thought that there was insufficient carer support and options and facilities. Inclusion by GPs was better, but still more than one-half of the carers noted that GPs didn't ask about their needs and nearly half did not consider the GP was providing the carer with adequate information. My questions to the Minister for Health and Wellbeing are:

1. What response has SA Health made to better include and support unpaid carers in the hospital system since October 2020?

2. Has the AMA and the Royal Australian College of GPs been approached to see what the issues may be with GPs? Is there a need for a Medicare item code to cover support advice to carers? Is there a privacy issue to be addressed? Is there a need for an education and information campaign?

The Hon. S.G. WADE (Minister for Health and Wellbeing) (14:49): If I could answer the honourable member's last question first, I certainly believe there is a need for ongoing information and education within the health system to alert them to the responsibility and the need to engage carers, whether they be family members or otherwise. It highlights the general point that was made most recently by the coronial inquest into the death of a young girl in Western Australia that was released recently: the importance of listening to people who know the patient, and that will often be a carer.

In relation to GPs and the possibility of a Medicare item number to facilitate carer engagement, the funding of the GP network and the arrangements in relation to the Medicare schedules, and for that matter the commonwealth Privacy Act, are all matters for the federal government but I will see what information I can obtain for the honourable member. In relation to the very specific question about what has been done since October 2020 by my agency, I will seek further information and come back to the honourable member on that.