6. Governance

The Carers Issues Reference Group (CIRG) has oversighted the implementation of the Carer Action Plan 2017-2020. The membership of the group has included relevant state and territory agencies and the two funded carer organisations – Carers Tasmania and Mental Health Families and Friends.

Communities Tasmania will continue to convene the CIRG, however it is anticipated that its role and functions will be reviewed as part of the consultation process to develop carer recognition legislation.

A new role for CIRG will be to liaise with agencies about the implementation of the PESRAC recommendations, as they relate to carers’ digital inclusion and participation in employment and education settings.

Relevant recommendations include:

PESRAC Interim Report

Recommendation 50 – PESRAC recommended that priority be given to work to ‘identify, engage and support vulnerable cohorts that may have ongoing disproportionate adverse impacts during recovery, including through disruption to education training and employment’.

As noted above, during COVID-19, many carers self-isolated for extended periods. It is likely that carers, including young carers, experienced disadvantage as a result.

Recommendation 51 – PESRAC recommended that Vulnerable Student Panels across all sectors should be continued, appropriately resourced, embedded within the education system and bolstered by a comprehensive case management system.’

The COVID-19 response and lockdowns disrupted learning for everyone, including young carers. Vulnerable Student Panels were put in place to mitigate the impact and strengthen the safety and wellbeing of vulnerable students.

Recommendation 60 – PESRAC that ’where digital service delivery has delivered improved outcomes from a client perspective, these changes should be maintained.’

The COVID-19 experience has demonstrated the success of alternate delivery models in a wide range of community settings including health and education.

PESRAC Final Report

Recommendation 19 – PESRAC recommended priority access to Trade Training Centres for vocational training for both school-age and adult learners.

Recommendation 23 – Jobs Tasmania to ‘address the needs of the recently out-of-work and under-employed as priority target groups, and young (under 25) jobseekers as capacity provides.

Re-training and re-entry to the workforce can be challenging for people who have left the workforce because of their caring responsibilities.

CIRG will also be tasked with providing advice on the needs of population cohorts including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Tasmanians, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer/Questioning+ (LGBTIQ+). This role will complement and support the annual Carer forum (see Action 1.3 above).

Current CIRG membership

Funded carer organisations:

Carers Tasmania/ Care2Serve

Carers Tasmania was established in 1993. It operates as a peak body, working with government, health and community sectors to enhance service provision and improve the conditions for family carers through policy development, research and advocacy. Carers Tasmania is part of a national network of carer organisations in each state and territory that are also peaks, as part of Carers Australia.

Care2Serve was established by Carers Tasmania as a wholly-owned charitable entity through which services would be delivered. In so doing, Carers Tasmania has separated advocacy and services to ensure best practice governance. Care2Serve plays a significant role in providing carer supports in Tasmania as the sole Carer Gateway service provider. Care2Serve has offices in Hobart, Launceston and Burnie.

Mental Health Families and Friends Tasmania

Mental Health Families and Friends Tasmania (MHFFT) is a peak body funded by DoH, to represent families, friends, and carers of people living with mental illness. The body provides systemic advocacy from a family and carer perspective, drawing on lived experience to improve mental health services.

MHFFT see family members, friends and unpaid carers as playing a unique role in the recovery journey of people living with mental illness because they know the person, and most likely knew them before they became unwell. They hold a unique source of information about the person’s life beyond their diagnosis of mental illness, including information about their interests, skills, beliefs and ambitions.

Government agencies:

Tasmanian Government – Department of Communities Tasmania, Department of Education, Department of Health.

Australian Government – Department of Health, Department of Social Services and National Disability Insurance Agency.