Financial and legal support for carers
Navigating the legalities and financial logistics of being a carer does not have to be complicated or stressful if you are able to plan in advance and make use of the unique services available for carers. Many carers aren’t aware of the enormous amount of help that is available to them, so make sure to find out how to legally protect yourself, understand your entitlements as a carer and learn how you can benefit from the systems in place for carers.
Being a carer for someone living with a blood cancer can not only be time consuming, but it can be cause financial difficulties as well. Some carers need to reduce their work hours while others choose to stop work completely and focus on caring. Fortunately, there are financial supports available for carers which can be accessed via Centrelink.
There are two main payments that are designed for carers of someone with a serious illness:
Carer payment: This is an income support payment available to those who ‘give constant care to someone who has a severe disability, illness or an adult who is frail’. There are eligibility requirements including illness and disability assessments and income and asset tests.
Carer allowance: This is an additional payment if you as a carer give ‘daily assistance to someone who has a disability, serious illness or is frail’. This is if the person in need will be requiring assistance for at least 12 months or the rest of their life. Again, there are eligibility requirements.
For the person living with a blood cancer, they may be eligible for a range of other financial support services from Centrelink, such as Disability Support Pension, Mobility Allowance or Essential Medical Equipment Payment.
For more information, visit Centrelink.
If you need help managing your finances, you can contact a group such as Financial Counselling Australia who can help you manage your financial situation.
Power of attorney
Whether you are someone living with a blood cancer or are the carer for a person living with a blood cancer, it is important to make a plan in case yourself or the patient is unable to meet their financial obligations due to illness.
A power of attorney is a person or organisation who is appointed (by someone needing assistance) to legally makes decisions on behalf of another person. Commonly a family member or trusted friend is chosen as power of attorney, but organisations such as a public trustee can be appointed.
It is important to know that there are different kinds of power of attorney and the regulations change state-by-state.
One of the biggest differences you need to be aware of is the distinction between being a ‘power of attorney’ and an ‘enduring power of attorney’.
If you are appointed to be a power of attorney, you can make decisions for the person needing assistance regarding their finances, property or legal issues – but only while the person is able to make informed decisions. If the person is no longer able to make informed decisions because their health has deteriorated, or they have passed away, only an enduring power of attorney can then make decisions on behalf of them.
For more information, visit your state’s relevant website via the links below
- Australian Capital Territory
- New South Wales
- Northern Territory
- South Australia
- Western Australia
Carer rights and the law
In 2010 the Australian Federal Government created the Carer Recognition Act to provide all carers in Australia the recognition of their situation. This was created to reflect the work carers do and the situation they find themselves in. The purpose of the Act is to ensure that all carers are offered the same ‘rights, choices and opportunities as other Australians’.
Most states and territories in Australia also have their own state-based laws which vary slightly from state to state.
Being legally recognised as a carer will open you to opportunities and benefits to compensate for your situation – such as financial compensation as well as access to support services.
Work and caring
Being a carer does not mean your professional or working life has to be put on hold. The Fair Work Act 2009 stipulates that employers are legally required to work with employees to achieve a work-life balance. This means an employer cannot deny reasonable requests, nor can an employee unfairly demand their role be changed – the two must work together to achieve a positive outcome.
An example of a positive outcome would be to work flexibly. The Fair Work Act 2009 outlines that employees have the legal right to request flexible working arrangements if they have met certain criteria – having been at the same employer for over 12 months, for example.
If your workplace is unable to change your hours of employment, another option might be to work remotely – working from home. Many people now work from home and have no need to have a physical presence in the office. This arrangement may also open you to savings come tax time as you can claim some of your expenses in your home office.
Every permanent full-time employee in Australia is entitled to paid leave – whether it be sick leave, annual leave or personal leave. Depending on your workplace, your employer may offer you extended personal leave. This is usually unpaid, but can be supplemented by Centrelink’s Carer Allowance.
If you feel your employer has been unfair or you need more information about your legal entitlements, speak to the Fair Work Ombudsman to help you navigate your situation.
Last updated on November 13th, 2019
Developed by the Leukaemia Foundation in consultation with people living with a blood cancer, Leukaemia Foundation support staff, haematology nursing staff and/or Australian clinical haematologists. This content is provided for information purposes only and we urge you to always seek advice from a registered health care professional for diagnosis, treatment and answers to your medical questions, including the suitability of a particular therapy, service, product or treatment in your circumstances. The Leukaemia Foundation shall not bear any liability for any person relying on the materials contained on this website.