A better deal for young carers of the disabled?

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With the release of research today showing that young people caring for family members with a disability are the most depressed group in our society, the Greens have marked Carer's Week with a call for a better deal for young carers.

Senator Rachel Siewert called on Mr Rudd and Mr Howard to give election pledges of how they will provide greater support and respite to young family carers in particular, to help them help their loved ones and still be able to lead fulfilling lives.

"Family carer's are one of the most hard-working and disadvantaged groups in Australian society. They put in long hours looking after sick or family members with a disability and their health and well-being as well as their working lives suffer as a result," said Senator Siewert.

"Skimping on supporting carers ultimately ends up costing us as a society through lost productivity and increased health-care costs in addition to the personal cost to carers."

"For young carers this is particularly hard because they are missing out on both the opportunity to pursue a career and to develop socially. It makes sense for us to give them a break now and then so they have a chance of a normal life and can go on caring. Ultimately we will all end up carrying the can if it becomes too much," said Senator Siewert.

The research by Professor Bob Cummins of Deakin University found that most carers are clinically depressed which results in tying up community health resources and reducing workplace productivity. The mental health of younger carers is particularly affected because they have a greater sense of missing out on life's possibilities and become more despairing about their future prospects.