Help on way for disabled child carers

Ildiko Hammond is exhausted.

Not only is caring for her severely disabled daughter a full-time job, it is also financially draining.

But yesterday, the Lismore mother of two received some welcome news.

Mrs Hammond and about 19,000 other carers of children with profound disabilities will soon qualify for a $550-a-fortnight carer payment under changes passed by the Federal Parliament.

“This is great news,” she said. “We are really struggling at the moment.”

The Government announced in the 2008 Budget the eligibility criteria would be broadened to the level of care required, rather than being based on a narrow set of medical and behavioural criteria. The payments begin July 1.

Mrs Hammond’s first daughter, Karamen, has the genetic disease Angelman Syndrome, which means she has the mental and speaking age of about a three-year-old.

“Karamen has been sick six times this year, which means I am up all night caring for her. I can’t care for her all the next day because I’m just too exhausted. That means her father has to take time off work.”

If Karamen is not supervised all the time, she has the habit of breaking things. So far the family has had to replace two computers, their DVD player and countless CDs.

The family also had to spend about $200 on a special pair of shoes Karamen destroyed within a month.

Di Hughes, acting manager of Interchange, which provides respite care and social support services for families who have a member with a disability, said the payment would help ease the pressure on many families.

“It will make a huge difference for a lot of families who have a child with some form of autism,” she said.

“These children need a high level of support and it can become a large financial burden for families.”

Still, while welcoming the change, Ms Hughes said it was a pity the assistance cut out at the child’s 16th birthday.

© APN News & Media Ltd 2008.