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Government and Service Providers

Since 2002 Carers WA has been delivering the Carer Representation Program to inform health and mental health government policy and practice in Western Australia. The Carer Representation Program supports approximately 60 carers to represent the carer community on working groups and steering committees. This webpage contains the following information:

Carers Recognition Act 2004

In Western Australia, the Carers Recognition Act 2004 formally recognises the need for carers to be involved in the assessment, planning, delivery and review of services by the WA Department of Health, Disability Services Commission, Mental Health Commission, and any services funded by these agencies that might affect carers and the role of carers.

How does an organisation benefit from Carer Representation?

There is a growing need for organisations to widely consult and engage service users in the planning and evaluation of programs and services, as part of safety and quality standards. Carers are an important part of that engagement.

The following standards also stipulate that health and mental health services must engage carers and consumers in the delivery of their services:

The Carer Representation Program has developed a policy outlining the delivery of the program and the parameters for which we can provide support to Carer Representatives. With the use of this resource, we encourage other organisations to develop representation policies for their own organisations. A copy of the current policy is available from the Relevant Resources section.

Who is a Carer Representative?

A Carer Representative is a person who is currently in, or has been in, a caring role who is able to represent the carers’ perspective. The involvement of carers and consumers in decision making that affects their lives is fundamental to improving support and service options. It’s important to recognise that carers have issues and needs distinct from those of other consumers.

What is the role of a Carer Representative?

The role of a Carer Representative is to provide the carer perspective from a community rather than an individual point of view. Carer Representatives engage with government to provide the collective carer voice in policy and program development, delivery and evaluation. Carers have a unique and valuable insight into barriers and issues experienced when accessing services.

How can Carers WA assist a health or mental health agency?

Carers WA can provide support by:

  • Advertising opportunities for Carer Representation to a pool of more than 60 carers as well as our extensive database of carer members.
  • Assisting to select and recruit Carer Representatives with specific lived experience.
  • Paying participation payments for Carer Representatives to sit on committees and other groups within the Department of Health; and Metropolitan Health and Mental Health Services.
  • Supporting existing Carer Representatives with an independent peer network to inform feedback, training opportunities and individual support.
  • Inviting you to attend our network meetings for health, mental health, alcohol and other drug providers – Carer Participation in Health Forum and Mental Health Carer Issues Network.
  • Presenting to your organisation/committees on the Carers Recognition Act 2004, Carer Representation Program and other Carers WA services.
How does Carers WA support Carer Representatives?

A team at Carers WA will provide Carer Representatives with the following:

  • Orientation - The Orientation gives carers the skills and tools to be effective advocates for the carer community and to feel comfortable sitting on a government committee. It is also an opportunity to meet with other carers who also want to make a difference.
  • Ongoing Training - To assist Carer Representatives with their professional development we offer four free workshops each year, as well as online training modules and other training opportunities.
  • Network Meetings – Carers WA hold regular meetings to provide the opportunity for carers, government representatives and service providers to identify and take action on carer issues. Guest speakers are often scheduled to provide ongoing education about services and developments in the health and mental health sectors.
  • Information Sharing – Carer Representatives have access to sector updates in health, mental health, alcohol and other drug, aged care and disability.
  • Individual Support for Carer Representatives - The Carer Representation team are available to provide ongoing, individualised support to Carer Representatives to assist them in their representative role. Carer Representatives are also able to access the Counselling service at Carers WA, as well as the Employment Assistance Program (delivered by OPTUM) offered as part of the Program.
  • Peer Support -The program strongly encourages peer support amongst Carer Representatives and the Carer Representative Network meetings are a great opportunity for this to occur.
What are the limitations to the role of a carer representative

A committee should not expect the Carer Representative to:

  • Have a technical background in the subject under discussion. Their expertise is their lived experience of caring for a family member or friend. Hence, most carers are not technical experts in policy or clinical knowledge, however they have developed a strong understanding of the service systems in which they have been involved.
  • Undertake carer consultations beyond what is required to inform their own input at the meeting or to ensure their own accountability to their community. If wider carer consultation is required, the Carer Representative can advise the committee on how this might best be achieved but should not necessarily be expected to undertake the work themselves.
  • Carer Representatives are not representing Carers WA. Carers WA are there to support Carer Representatives in their role by facilitation of participation payments and reimbursements, provision of orientation, training, networking support, and sector updates.
How to request a Carer Representative?

To request a Carer Representative, the committee needs to complete the Request for Carer Representation form below. A member from the Carer Representation Team will then be in contact with you to discuss the process of recruiting a carer. We will work with you to match a Carer Representative with appropriate lived experience to your committee. Note: committees may recruit more than one carer.

Do you want to join a network to promote the carer and family member perspective?

Meetings are convened by Carers WA as part of the Carer Representation Program. These meetings provide a platform for carers, NGO's and government departments to share information and identify, promote and address issues relating to carers.

  • Mental Health Carer Issues Network (MHCIN) - The MHCIN is for carers of people with mental ill health and/or alcohol and other drug issues and service providers.
  • Carer Participation in Health Forum (CPIHF) – The CPIHF is for carers of people with health issues and service providers.
Relevant resources
Contact details

For further information call Carers WA on 1300 CARERS (1300 227 377) or email carer.representation@carerswa.asn.au