The Victorian government has committed to a huge spending boost for carers including $4 million allocated to support under-recognised LGBTI carers and young carers.

There are around 730,000 carers in the state, with one in five giving up work and young carers often dropping out of school to look after loved ones who need support.

The $49.5 million funding package goes towards an extra 100,000 hours of respite care each year and expands eligibility to include carers of people with mental illness.

Of that, the dedicated funding for LGBTI carers, young carers and regional carers will provide access to grants for grassroots and state-wide support groups.

Carers will also have access to half-price travel on public transport all year round.

“For thousands of Victorians caring for a loved one is 24/7 job – and they deserve a hand,” Premier Daniel Andrews said.

“Carer support groups give people emotional support and connect them with other people dealing with the same challenges. These grants will make sure more carers can access this vital support,” said Gabrielle Williams, Parliamentary Secretary for Carers and Volunteers.

Carers Victoria welcomed the announced funding, with CEO Scott Walker saying the organisation will seek the same commitment from all parties in the lead-up to the Victorian state election.

“Carers Victoria’s advocacy over the last several years has been a key influence on this outcome. We have been especially fortunate to have a champion for carers in the Victorian parliament in Gabrielle Williams,” Walker said.

One in four carers who identify as LGBTI, or who look after someone who does, say they have avoided accessing services they need due to fear of discrimination.

Recent research shows that LGBTI people with disability or mental illness, many of whom require care, suffer far higher rates of discrimination, anxiety and abuse.

Carers Victoria’s own research shows that 21 percent of carers surveyed reported negative service experiences, with many describing significant physical, mental and emotional impacts, and that only 57 percent identified as a carer.

Head to the Carers Victoria website for more information on support services for LGBTI carers.

The federal government’s Carer Gateway also has information regarding access to support for LGBTI carers around the country.

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