National Carers Week  

This week (Sunday 16–Saturday 22 October) is National Carers Week, and it’s an opportunity to recognise, celebrate, and raise awareness among all Australians about the diversity of Australia’s 2.65 million carers and their caring roles.

National Carers Week is in its 30th year, and this week we acknowledge the important, often challenging, role of carers in our community. The theme of National Carers Week 2022 is ‘Millions of Reasons to Care’.

It’s important to remember that everyone’s caring journey is different. People become carers in different ways and for different reasons, and sometimes (like in the case of caring for those living with scleroderma) it can be a gradual progression into caring for another, while other times it happens suddenly because of an accident or illness.

The definition of a Carer is anyone who provides care and support to a family member with disability, a medical condition, mental illness, or who is frail due to age.

In our October Virtual Education Session, we invited Elizabeth Divers of Social Security Rights Victoria to give us some insights on the difference between carer payment and carer allowance.

Here’s a summary of some of what she shared with us:

Carers Allowance (CA) vs Carer Payment (CP)

Carer Payment and Carers Allowance are similar in some ways but also have differences that make them better suited for different types of situations.

Carer Payment is an income support payment that Centrelink pays to a person who is unable to support themselves through substantial paid employment due to providing full time daily care for someone who has:

  • Severe disability/disabilities; or
  • A medical condition/s;or
  • An older person who requires additional care

Carer Payment may also be paid where parents are exchanging care of 2 or more children each with severe disability or severe medical condition, under a parenting plan.

The requirements for Carer Payment are:

  1. The carer provides constant care;
  2. The care receiver meets the definition of ‘care receiver’;
  3. Income and assets test; (for both the carer and care receiver)
  4. Residence requirements;

On the other hand, Carer Allowance is a supplementary payment for people who provide daily care and attention to a person with disability or medical condition.

The requirements for Carer Allowance are:

  1. The carer must meet the CA income test, AND
  2. The person with a disability must be a child with disability or an adult with a disability AND
  3. Both the carer and the disabled child/adult must be an Australian resident AND
  4. The person with disability must receive ‘care and attention’ on a daily basis because of the disability, AND
  5. Care and attention must be provided in a private home that is the residence of the carer and the care recipient, OR

A carer who does not live in the same private home as an adult care receiver may qualify if the care relates to the care receiver’s bodily functions or to sustaining the care receiver’s life and is provided on a daily basis, for a total of at least 20 hours a week, AND

  1. The care is required permanently or for a minimum period of 12 months, unless the condition is terminal

Carer Payment is paid at the rate of most Centrelink pensions, similar to the Disability Support Pension (DSP) or Parenting Payment. Carer Allowance is what is known as a supplementary payment, so it’s paid in addition to whatever base payment, someone might be on. You don’t have to be on Carer Payment in order to be receiving Carer Allowance.  It has its own set of criteria which is slightly different to Carer Payment.

How to know if you’re eligible for carer payment or carer allowance?

You can apply for Carer Allowance or Carer Payment if you are caring for someone who is sick or has disability. You may also be eligible to claim a disability support pension (DSP).

One useful tip that Liz shared is that the only way to really know if you will meet the qualification criteria for a payment is to lodge a claim and have it assessed by Centrelink. If you’re honest with Centrelink, about your circumstances, you’ve got nothing to lose because you might find that you are actually assessed as eligible.

You can begin your online application at and

Scleroderma and the caring journey:

People with scleroderma know all too well the impact on their daily lives due to having this condition and our family and friends play an important role in supporting us, and often take on the responsibility of becoming a carer. There are many ways to support us, and that may include helping someone stay as healthy and well as possible, supporting us to maintain our independence, or helping us to stay connected to our community and providing assistance with daily living activities.

Scleroderma Victoria are committed to ensuring our scleroderma community are supported in as many ways as possible, and we know we cannot do it without our family and friends. So, this week, (and every week) we acknowledge you, and we thank you for all that you do.

Scleroderma Victoria have developed a membership program for our family and friends, and we welcome you to join to continue supporting your loved ones with scleroderma. Apply online here

Additional support for carers:

Carer Gateway is a support service available to carers, and Carers Victoria is the peak body representing all unpaid carers in Victoria, championing all carers across Victorian communities regardless of the nature of the caring role.

Carers are encouraged to access support through their website, and they offer a free support program to help carers in their caring role.

Find out more here:

Sharing the caring experience:

We created a series of videos a few years ago, and one of them is the story of Ian, a carer for his wife Barbara. We’re so appreciative for their sharing. Ian talks about his experience being the carer for his wife, Barbara who has scleroderma, and Barbara required a lung transplant due to scleroderma.

Ian and Barbara were very generous in sharing their story with us, and many of you will recognise some of the challenges that Ian shares, from the stress and the worry and the social isolation, the money concerns, the physical health problems, his honesty was very moving. Bob acknowledged depression, frustration, anger, and low self-esteem which are issues that many carers face over time being a carer for someone they love.

You can watch the video here. Scleroderma Victoria Interview with Ian – Carer

We finished our October Virtual Education Session asking people to share a few thoughts about what they’d like to tell their carer about scleroderma or about how having them as a carer makes them feel, and what they may like them to know.

Please follow our Scleroderma Victoria YouTube channel

We are interested to hear from our scleroderma community, and especially Family & Friends, on how we can support you better. Please take the time to share our survey and help us help you.

Continue the conversation with us on our social channels and help spread the word. Scleroderma Victoria needs the support of people with scleroderma, their family and friends and the wider community to become part of our member community.

The content of this article is information only and does not constitute legal advice. For legal advice please contact SSRV’s Legal Assistance Line on 03 9481 0355, or if you are outside Victoria, you can find your state’s specialist community legal service through the Economic Justice Australia website.