Carers offered more work flexibility in employment push

Carers will be able to work more flexibly while holding onto their support payments in a federal government bid to remove barriers to employment.

About one-in-ten people across Australia provide unpaid care for a loved one with a disability or an older person and roughly 304,500 of them receive the government carer payment.

Many carers work fewer hours than they want to and underemployment is much more common among this demographic compared to the general population, a 2023 survey from Carers Australia found.

However, those who receive the government support can have their payments cancelled if they work more than 25 hours per week.

The federal government will commit $18.6 million over five years to adjust this requirement when it delivers its budget on May 14.

Under the changes, these carers will be able to work 100 hours over a four week period.

Those who need to work more on one-off instances will also be able to access a temporary cessation of care days provision.

Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth said the changes, which are a response to the economic inclusion advisory committee's report and the September 2023 employment white paper, would help improve workforce participation.

Social Services Minister Amanda at a press conference.
Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth hopes the changes will increase workforce participation. (Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS)

"Australia's carers are our nation's heroes who work selflessly to support their loved ones and those they care for," she said.

"Carers will have greater ability to flexibly manage their work commitments in a way that both fulfils their needs and the needs of the person they are caring for."

This is likely to benefit carers who live in remote and regional areas that need to travel further for work and those who volunteer or engage in education activities, incentivising them to up-skill.