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Matters of State - Carers

Friday, June 15, 2012

Looking after someone's every need, usually unpaid, probably on duty around the clock, surely attracts only saints to apply for the job. Yet it is fact that three in five of us will be a carer at some point in our lives. Carers put their lives on hold to support some of the most vulnerable people in our community and they do it because they care.  Visiting the Orana Early Childhood Centre in Dubbo recently gave me reason to reflect upon the role of carers and how much poorer society would be in their absence. While participating in a sing along with the children, staff and parents at the centre I caught a glimpse of what life must be like for a great many families in our community who cope with the additional challenges posed with caring for special needs children. Of course caring can take a number of forms with childcare and disability care among the most common. However it is the care provided to the aged and those suffering with a mental illness that perhaps brings with it the greater burden of responsibility. For instance the personal cost of caring for a loved one with mental illness was highlighted in a new study of 1000 carers by Wesley Mission released recently. It surprised me to learn that almost 90 per cent of the carers report a harmful effect on their own physical and mental health and three in four report adverse effects on relationships with family and friends. Almost 60 per cent said their employment and financial situation had deteriorated. These statistics highlight to me that carers must be acknowledged, supported and appreciated for their work. Working with people with a mental illness and supporting their families and carers is pivotal to achieving strong outcomes in mental health care. Research shows supporting carers benefits consumers, including enhancing the effectiveness of service delivery, decreasing hospital admissions and reducing relapse rates. Last year the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government delivered the largest increase in funding for mental health in the state’s history. The NSW Government spent $1.34 billion on mental health services in 2011-12, an increase of $109 million - or 8.8 per cent - on the previous year.  One way of acknowledging this important role is the public recognition provided to those many unsung heroes in the community, through the NSW Carers Awards. The hard work of carers often goes unnoticed, but this is one way for the community to recognise the incredible sacrifices they make. The categories for the awards include Individual carer; Carer support group; Supporting Working Carers – Government sector; Supporting Working Carers – Non-government organisation; Supporting Working Carers – Private sector; Supporting Young Carers – Primary/secondary school; Supporting Young Carers – Tertiary education provider; Supporting Young Carers – Non-government organisation and Supporting Young Carers – Government agency. Nominations can be made online at until Friday 15 July 2012.  Carer's awards will be presented announced during NSW Carers Week on Sunday 14 October to Saturday 20 October. A special event will be held on Monday, 15 October at NSW Parliament for the major recipients.



Dubbo: No longer out of sight or out of mind

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Long recognised as the geographical heart of New South Wales, Dubbo is fast establishing a reputation for itself as the preferred location for staging Ministerial events and announcements. In recent months Dubbo has played host to 13 Ministers who have chosen this electorate to spend time outlining important initiatives within their respective portfolios. Whether it is to announce the arrival of more doctors and nurses or the delivery of new services to the community Dubbo has been blessed with choice when it comes to Ministerial announcements. It can no longer be said that Dubbo does not appear on the Government's radar. Long gone are the days under Labor when the Government of the day paid lip service to the interests of this community. The NSW Liberal/Nationals are serious about delivering better outcomes for the people of the Dubbo electorate. I share a long standing passion with many other local citizens in wishing to see Dubbo and the surrounding region realise its full potential and cement its reputation as the true regional capital of this state.

The process starts in earnest this week while we play host to the Ministers for Sport and Recreation, Aboriginal Affairs, Health and Mental Health. Minister Graham Annesley was in the electorate on Tuesday to meet and offer his congratulations to touch football stalwart Neil Webster, a recent recipient of Dubbo's 2012 Service to Sport Award. The Minister was impressed by the high standard of facilities on offer in Dubbo no doubt contributing to its success in hosting the NSW Touch Country Championships for the past 21 years. On the same day Aboriginal Affairs Minister Victor Dominello was in town to convene a meeting that gave local residents a say in the new Aboriginal affairs strategy for NSW. This formed part of the NSW Government’s Ministerial Taskforce on Aboriginal Affairs. On Thursday both Jillian Skinner and Kevin Humphries will be on hand to chair the Rural Health Forum, established to tap into local suggestions, ideas and innovations that will improve health services and patient care in Western NSW. To top it all off it was my great privilege to chair meetings in Dubbo and Forbes as part of the NSW Governments community consultation process in response to the draft Murray Darling Basin Plan. These meetings followed those I attended in Finley and Leeton last week, with further meetings scheduled to take place in Narrabri and Moree.

No one should underestimate the magnitude of the task ahead turning around this state's finances. The legacy we inherited from Labor means that we will not be able to proceed as quickly with funding as many of the worthwhile infrastructure projects the community has long wished for. However the undertaking given upon our election that our commitments will be honoured in their entirety remains in place.

I look forward to working closely with Ministerial colleagues and local stakeholders to help realise this Governments vision for our community.


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