An open letter

Did you know if you are a recipient of a Carer’s Allowance of a child this is cut off (no matter what the diagnosis) when they turn 16 and you then have to reapply as Centrelink in all their wisdom considers them to be an adult. Here is a letter I emailed to my local member today.

Hi Ross

Thank you for your email.

I’m still very dismayed that Centrelink can classify a 16 year old as an adult and believe this is purely to justify cutting the Carer’s Allowance at same age. No 16 year old I know has the legal standing of an adult.

I read the Human Rights Commission definition of a child and it states “eighteen years unless under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier”

I then googled the UN definition and best I could find was a definition of a youth which is clearly not an adult. “The United Nations, for statistical purposes, defines ‘youth’, as those persons between the ages of 15 and 24 years”

So legislation in Australia for economic reasons determines a disabled 16 year old is an adult when their carer seeks to provide continuity of care. This bewilders me. My son cannot vote, buy cigarettes, drive a car, drink alcohol or sign legal documents. The reasons he can do none of these things is because he is not equipped to make reasonable informed decisions about his life. He is a minor.

My job as a voter is to demand that you, my sitting member be a part of the process to make the necessary changes to legislation.

There really is no substance to this notion of a 16 year old being considered an adult other than to disrupt the wellbeing of families providing care. The financial hardship and the added stress to our lives because of this current practice is unnecessary and potentially would cost the taxpayers more. My marriage is strained. Should it falter then there is an added welfare burden on taxpayers much larger than the very paltry amount we are fighting to continue to receive.

A re-assessment needs to occur once a child turns 16 as the criteria for carers allowance for children is different to those of an adult. They also need to determine whether the required level of care has changed and that you are being paid the correct amount for that particular level of care.

I find the above reply from Centrelink to be unacceptable. I also think just because this is the way it’s always been doesn’t meant it’s the way it should be.

I will be awaiting your reply.

Laura Lewis

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