Carer's payment petition

Reporter: Laura Sparkes

Kelly Rowe was so incensed by our recent story about Jacob Lake, whose parents were told he is not diasabled enough to qualify for a carer's payment, that she's hit the streets collecting signatures for a petition to lobby government to change the criteria. She wants to make it easier for parents with chronically disabled children to get the fortnightly carers payment worth around $440.

Kelly was just one of many who contacted us after seeing Jacob's story, the little baby who suffers from the congenital condition Goldenhars Syndrome. His parents Kylie Morris and Aaron Lake have been knocked back by Centrelink four times for the vital carers payment.

After our story on Jacob, Today Tonight were contacted by seven parents who all have children with Goldenhar Syndrome. Of those seven only two had managed to get carer's payment from Centrelink and that was more than 10 years ago when the children were first born. The Prime Minister recently announced a five-year financial package worth $1.8 billion for parents of disabled children. Unfortunately though, it still seems to be very difficult for carers to qualify for the payment.

"Of course its difficult because we recognise the plight of these families. We have done everything that we can do within the law, we are a federal government agency required to operate within the law, there are areas where we have no discretion," said Centrelink General Manager Hank Jongen. "Certainly the rules are very rigid, the government has been alerted to some of the implications of the cases we've been discussing," Mr Jongen added.

Mr Jongen also said the government is currently reviewing the carers payment with up to two-thirds of parents being knocked back because their disabled child does not fit the criteria.

Today Tonight feels it is important the government understands how the Australian public feels about this issue and we invite you to sign our petition to make it easier for carers to qualify for the payment.

Click here to sign our petition and tell the government what you think.