The Commonwealth Government will provide $38 million over the next two years to fund two programs for carers.

The funding extension will enable 97 employed carer services and 79 overnight respite services to continue.

The $38 million will be made available through the National Respite for Carers Program, which has an overall budget of $194 million in 2008-09.

The Minister for Ageing, Justine Elliot made the formal announcement at the Marco Polo aged care facility in Unanderra, near Wollongong.

Mrs Elliot was officially opening the home’s new onsite café and presenting certificates to staff members.

“The overnight respite program provides planned, unplanned and emergency accommodation for care recipients – so this allows carers to take a break from their responsibilities for a short period,” said Mrs Elliot.

“The program for employed carers assists carers of frail older people find time to combine their caring duties with employment or study.

“It provides services such as transport to medical appointments and social support groups, and meal preparation.”

Throughout Australia, almost 2.6 million people provide care for family members or friends. About 500,000 of them are primary carers.

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