Carers and other members of the broader community have provided their advice to the ACT Government on the development of an ACT Carers Strategy (the Strategy).
This advice was developed through the creation of a panel called the Carers Voice Deliberative Panel. The panel was formed as part of the ACT Government’s commitment to engage more effectively with the ACT community through a deliberative democracy process.
In order to undertake this process, the Government partnered with the support and advocacy group Carers ACT and consultancy firm democracyCo, which specialises in deliberative democracy initiatives.
This jointly-managed process brought together 49 members of the Canberra community with diverse experiences and perspectives to guide the Government in its work to develop the Strategy.
The panel met twice during October 2017 to deliberate on the following questions:
- What would make Canberra a carer friendly city?
- What outcomes the community wants to see for carers?
- What the community’s shared priorities should be?
Participants heard from a range of witnesses, including people with lived experience as carers, to inform their discussions. Panel members worked collaboratively in large and small workgroups to identify issues faced by carers in the ACT and how a Strategy might address these issues.
At the completion of the Day 2 session, panel members presented the results of their deliberation to the Minister for Community Services and Social Inclusion, Rachel Stephen-Smith, CEO of Carers ACT, Lisa Kelly, and Government officials who attended the panel to observe the deliberations.
The ACT Government has given an in-principle commitment to accept the vision, outcomes and priorities of the Strategy as developed by the panel. This created the environment needed for the deliberative panel process, by establishing trust between panel participants, stakeholders, Carers ACT and government. democracyCo will now work with a small group of carers to finalise the work undertaken by the panel.
To take this work forward, a group of Government and community sector stakeholders will convene in early 2018 to develop actions to deliver on the vision, outcomes and priorities developed by the panel.
The Strategy will serve as a framework to support and recognise the work of carers, acknowledging the difference carers make in our community. It will also provide a plan of action, guiding support for carers and responding to key challenges like combining caring and paid work, study and recreation activities.
Several actions were identified at the panel sessions that could be undertaken immediately to improve access to support for carers. Work will commence on these initiatives immediately, with a finalised Strategy developed in 2018.
Through this process the ACT Government is fulfilling its election commitment to develop an ACT Carers Strategy, as well as its commitment to strengthen community consultation processes. Developing the Strategy aligns with the Government’s focus on enhancing liveability and inclusion.
For more information, contact the Community Services Directorate on (02) 6205 0282 or CSD.Media@act.gov.au