25 hour rule

Working, volunteering or studying/training the injustice of the Centrelink rule

You can work, volunteer or study/train for up to 25 hours a week (including time taken  travel) and still be eligible for Carer Payment. Any income you receive may effect your rate of payment.

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An unpaid carer can work, volunteer or study/train for up to 25 hours a week (including time taken to travel) and still be eligible for Carer Payment, one hour over disqualifies you from being a primary carer for Centrelink purposes.

No other welfare payment restricts a person from living as normal a life as possible. Imagine if we said to seniors, that they cannot spend more than 25 hours a week studying, working or volunteering? Or for married seniors more than 25 hours apart on a given week without losing their pension. Or parents – if they are away from their children more than 25 hours in a given week according to  Centrelink they cease to be eligible as parents and are not entitled to family assistance payments.

Governments do this only to carers – simply because they can. They know unpaid carers have no funded advocacy because they ensure they do not. There are 79 federally funded Disability Advocacy groups but none advocate for families who provide care.

WORKING

Any income you receive may affect your rate of payment without consideration of the cost of care that you may need to pay in order to earn that income. A carer on a middle income must personally meet the cost of care – even of an adult. No other Australian family is responsible for the costs of family members into adulthood.Often this cost can reduce the wage to basic pension rates.

STUDYING

The travel to and from study being seen as hours away from unpaid care often means an unpaid carer often cannot fulfill the obligations of the course. The idea that anyone should be so restricted by government policy should be anathema to all Australians.

All other students are encouraged to participate broadly in community life but it appears as though our government demand nothing less than 143 hours of unpaid care to be entitled to @1.91 per hour – the rate of the carers pension if you are a student who provides primary care.

VOLUNTEERING

Interesting that the Centrelink considers volunteering more than 25 hours a week offensive enough to remove the pension. This Centrelink rule means that family carers must earn their pension by providing care for every other hour in a given week minus 25 (meaning 143 hours per week).

If a family carer is not a volunteer and not a paid worker, what are they? Is providing care voluntary? If yes, all carers pension recipients legally cannot provide care for longer than 25 hours according to Centrelink and should not be entitled to the pension. A bit of a legal dilemma for the government.

If the government considers caring non voluntary that is another dilemma for them given that the base hourly pay rate.

CONCLUSION

These ridiculous rules must be revoked. The carers ‘payment’ should be staggered according to the level of care provided and the hours on call that the carer must provide.

“A fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work in the underpinning principle of Australian working life, why are carers any different?”

The Carers Alliance will fight to change this injustice. We will demand both tax concessions and offsets for the cost of care. We will demand that Carers ceased to be treated like second class citizens. We will take these issues up in parliament if elected and demand the same fairness for unpaid carers as there is for other Australian workers.

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