NSW Carers (Recognition) Act 2010

Legal recognition of carers

The NSW Carers (Recognition) Act 2010 (the Act) was introduced to provide recognition of carers and to establish a Carers Advisory Council. The Act requires that:

  • Government departments and local councils make sure all staff are aware of and understand the Carers Charter.
  • Staff in human service agencies reflect the principles of the Charter in their core business activities.
  • Government departments and local councils consult with appropriate organisations or bodies that represent carers when developing policies that will impact on carers.
  • Government departments and local councils develop human resources policies following consideration of the Carers Charter.

The Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) is responsible for leading the implementation of the Act across all public sector agencies. The NSW Carers (Recognition) Act 2010 Implementation Plan 2011 – 2014 provides a clear understanding of the obligations of public sector and human service agencies under this Act.

Review of the Carers (Recognition) Act 2010

The Carers (Recognition) Act 2010 was reviewed by the Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) on behalf of the Minister for Disability Services. The review was a requirement of the Act.

As part of the review, FACS led a range of public consultations to engage carers and other key stakeholders in the review process. Consultation methods included an online survey, discussion paper, written submissions, carer forums and a public sector forum. Over 800 individuals and 50 organisations participated in the consultation process. The Minister also met with carers to hear their feedback and experiences. The discussion paper that guided the review process is available here: Discussion Paper – Review of the Carers (Recognition) Act 2010

A report on the outcome of the review was tabled in Parliament on 8 November 2016. The review concluded that overall the objects of the Act remain valid and that the terms for meeting those objectives are appropriate. The final report contains ten recommendations, including three recommendations that require minor legislative changes. You can read the full review report here.

About the Act

NSW Carers Charter

The NSW Carers Charter contains 13 principles that provide guidance on issues of significance for carers, including respect and recognition, inclusion in decision making, and access to services they may need. Human service agencies in the NSW public sector are required to reflect the principles of the Carers Charter and, therefore, must consider how to incorporate the support and recognition of carers who are clients into their core business. This will assist in promoting the social inclusion of carers in NSW.

The Charter can be found at Schedule 1 of the Act.

The review recommends that the charter be amended to more clearly communicate principles and acknowledge carers and partners in care.

Carers Advisory Council

The Act establishes a NSW Carers Advisory Council to promote the interests of carers. The Council also reviews and makes recommendations to the Minister for Disability Services and Minister for Ageing on relevant issues.  You can read more about the Council and its members here.   

The review of the Act recommends that the chairing arrangements of the Council be modified, to allow for the Minister to appoint a chair and deputy chair, instead of the Minister being the chair, which is currently the situation. This will enable the Council to continue it’s valuable role, providing advice to the Minister.  The majority of Council members will continue to be carers.

What the Act means to carers

Carers working in the public sector will benefit from human resources policies that have either been developed following consideration of the Carers Charter or already reflect the Charter's principles. In this way, human resource policies will meet the needs of carers. You might want to become familiar with flexible work policies to help you in your caring role, including leave entitlements and flex time. Once you know the options, talk to your manager about working together to implement appropriate support to help you combine caring and work.

Dr Karen Crawley is a GP, carer and 2015 Highly Commended NSW Carers Award recipient. She talks about juggling work and caring responsibilities

Obligations of public sector agencies

The Act defines public sector agencies and requires them to:

  • take reasonable steps to ensure that staff are aware of and understand the NSW Carers Charter.
  • consult with organisations that represent carers when developing policies that impact on carers. Please note the review recommends this section be amended to state “consult with carers and/or organisations that represent carers”. This will encourage more direct consulting with carers, who may be clients, carers of clients or employees.
  • develop and/or implement human resource policies following consideration of the Carers Charter.The Act places additional obligations on human service agencies. Human service agencies are public sector agencies that provide services directed at carers or the people they care for. In addition to being aware of and understanding the Carers Charter principles, human service agencies must ensure that staff reflect the principles in their daily work. Human service agencies are also required to prepare a report on their compliance with the Act for inclusion in the agency's annual report. To help agencies with this obligation to report, an Annual Reporting Template has been developed. Based on a recommendation from the review, from 2016/17 a summary of Human Service Agency  annual reports will be provided to the Minister. FACS will also profile examples of good practice.

    If you require further information about the Carers (Recognition) Act 2010 or would like to order hard copies of the brochure or either poster, please email NSWCarersAct@facs.nsw.gov.au.

Resources to implement the Act

The following resources have been developed to help NSW Government agencies to implement the Act.  Please note that following the statutory review, these resources will be reviewed and updated