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Factsheet HSV06 - Respite Care and Carer Support


This factsheet provides information about respite care and carer support services available to the veteran community.

Who is a carer?

A carer can be a friend, partner or family member who provides ongoing care to a person who is severely incapacitated or frail. A carer is not required to live with the care recipient. For the purpose of this factsheet, a carer is someone who provides unpaid support and may receive the Carer Payment or Carer Allowance from Centrelink.

What is respite care?

Respite care gives a break to a carer by temporarily relieving them of their caring responsibilities.

Am I eligible to receive respite care services?

Respite care services may be provided to any of the following:

  • the carer of an eligible DVA client (Residential Respite, In-Home Respite and Emergency short-term home relief (ESTHR)
  • an eligible DVA client who has carer responsibilities (In-Home Respite)
  • a self carer (Residential Respite only)

You are eligible to be assessed for respite care if either of the following apply:

  • you have a Gold Card or White Card (eligible DVA client)
  • the carer is providing ongoing care to someone who has a Gold Card or White Card (eligible DVA client)

British Commonwealth and Allied (BCAL) veterans with a White Card are eligible only for respite care and not any other service provided by the VHC Program.

For more information, please call your VHC Assessment Agency directly on 1300 550 450 to discuss eligibility or to arrange for an assessment to be undertaken.

What types of respite care services are available?

Respite services are provided through the Veterans’ Home Care (VHC) Program.

In-Home Respite Care

In-Home Respite is available for eligible DVA clients where either of the following apply:

  • being cared for, and their carer needs a break from the caring role
  • caring for someone, and they need a break from the caring role

Self-carers are not eligible for in-home respite.

In-home respite allows a carer to have a break while a substitute carer comes into the home to take over the caring role. In-home respite can be for regular visits or for one-off situations. It gives the carer the opportunity to attend to everyday activities, and supports carers who have other work/ education commitments, or are re-entering the workforce. The provision of in-home respite may occur while the carer is absent from the home or while they are at home, but it must enable the carer to be relieved of the caring tasks.

Residential Respite Care

Provides short-term care, usually in an Australian Government-funded aged care facility. It can be used if a carer needs a break, or if the self-carer does not have a carer. Only entitled persons (for example, veterans or war widows/ers) can be admitted for residential respite. It is available on a planned or emergency basis. In certain circumstances residential respite may be provided in other types of accommodation.

Residential Respite Care does not include convalescent care. Convalescent care is provided in an appropriate care facility and is used to recover from an acute illness or operation after being discharged from hospital. For more information, please refer to Factsheet HSV77 — Convalescent Care.

Emergency Short-Term Home Relief

Emergency Short-Term Home Relief (ESTHR) is emergency care when the carer of the eligible DVA client is unexpectedly unable to do so, and general community services are not available. If the only alternatives are admission to hospital or being left without the necessary care, DVA can provide care in your home until general community services are arranged, or the usual carer is able to resume the caring role.

Self-carers are not eligible for ESTHR. If the eligible DVA client is the carer and the person they are caring for is not a DVA client in their own right, ESTHR cannot be provided.

How do I apply for respite services?

In-Home Respite Care and ESTHR

First, you will need to be assessed. To arrange an assessment call a VHC Assessment Agency directly on 1300 550 450^. The VHC assessor will discuss your circumstances with you to identify which services you need.

If In-Home Respite or ESTHR is to be arranged, a care plan will be sent by the VHC Assessment Agency to you and a VHC Service Provider. The VHC Service Provider will call you to discuss a suitable time to provide the service(s).

Residential Respite Care in an Australian Government-funded aged care facility

Eligible DVA clients needing residential respite in an Australian Government-funded aged care facility should be assessed by an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) or the Aged Care Assessment Service (ACAS) before booking their stay. To organise an ACAT or ACAS assessment, telephone the My Aged Care national contact centre on 1800 200 422* or visit My Aged Care (

After receiving an ACAT or ACAS approval, the eligible DVA client (or their carer or family) will need to locate a facility with an available respite bed. To find an Australian Government-funded aged care facility, visit MyAgedCare (

Once a respite bed has been booked, call a VHC Assessment Agency on 1300 550 450^. The VHC assessor will arrange for DVA funding for the residential respite stay within the service threshold. A letter will be sent by the VHC Assessment Agency to you and to the residential respite facility.

Residential Respite Care in other types of accommodation

If an Australian Government-funded aged care facility does not meet your care needs and/or you are under 65 years old, residential respite may be provided in other types of accommodation. Please contact a VHC Assessment Agency directly on 1300 550 450^ to discuss your care needs before organising an ACAT or ACAS assessment through the My Aged Care national contact centre.

What are the thresholds to each service I can receive?

DVA will pay for up to 196 hours of In-Home Respite Care, or 28 days of Residential Respite Care or a combination of both in any one financial year. For calculation purposes, seven hours of In-Home Respite Care equals one day of Residential Respite Care. If you need more than this, you may be assessed by other government programs and will need to pay any associated costs.

DVA will also pay for up to 72 hours per episode of ESTHR, with a maximum limit of 216 hours, per financial year.

Will I need to pay for these services?

You will not have to pay for respite care services provided through the VHC Program.

If you are assessed as needing Residential Respite Care, the Australian Government will allow 63 days of residential respite per financial year. Of these 63 days, DVA will pay the basic daily care fee for up to 28 days, depending if any In-Home Respite has been used. If you require more than 28 days and up to the maximum of 63 days, you will be required to pay the basic daily care fee.

If you are an Australian former Prisoner of War (POW) or a Victoria Cross (VC) recipient and assessed as needing Residential Respite Care, DVA will pay the basic daily care fee for a maximum of 63 days, depending if any In-Home Respite has been used.

Please note: DVA will not pay for any extra service fees that may be applicable in the aged care facility.

Some Australian Government-funded aged care facilities may charge you a booking fee to secure a period of respite care. It is a prepayment and not an additional payment. Section 10 of the Fees and Payments Principles 2014 limits the booking fee charged by Australian Government-funded aged care facilities. The booking fee must not exceed the equivalent of the fee for one week's respite care, or 25 per cent of the fee for the proposed period of respite care, whichever is less.  DVA are unable to pay this booking fee.  The Australian Government-funded aged care facility is responsible for refunding this booking fee to you after your respite stay.

If an Australian Government-funded aged care facility charges you a booking fee that exceeds the legislated limit in section 10 of the Fees and Payments Principles 2014, you or your nominated representative can lodge a complaint with the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner. The Complaints Commissioner is an independent statutory office holder responsible for providing a free complaints resolution service across Australia. The Complaints Commissioner can be contacted directly on 1800 550 552 or by visiting Aged Care Complaints (

Will this affect my pension?

If you are a member of a couple receiving a DVA Service Pension (or a Centrelink Age Pension) at the couples' rate and enter Residential Respite for a minimum of 14 consecutive days or more, you may be determined to be an 'illness separated couple'. This means that you may be eligible to be paid the higher single rate of pension.  To arrange this you or your nominated representative must telephone DVA on 1800 555 254 within three months of you entering approved Residential Respite

Please refer to Factsheet IS01 Service Pension Overview for more information.

Open Arms — Veterans & Families Counselling

Open Arms — Veterans & Families Counselling provides services to veterans, eligible Australian Defence Force Members and their families which includes all of the following:

  • individual, couple and family counselling and support for those with more complex needs
  • services to enhance family functioning and parenting
  • after-hours crisis telephone counselling through Veterans Line
  • information, education and self-help resources

Non-DVA carer services

Respite care is also available through the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) or the Home and Community Care (HACC) Program (in Western Australia). CHSP or HACC provides additional types of respite care that are not available through VHC, including all of the following:

  • centre-based respite
  • community access respite
  • host family respite

These programs are not funded by DVA and may incur additional costs.

For more information about respite care provided through CHSP or HACC, please telephone the My Aged Care national contact centre on 1800 200 422* or visit My Aged Care (

The National Carer Gateway is a carer resource and information gateway which provides support and linking services to carers both online and through a national telephone contact centre 1800 422 737*.

Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres (CRCC)

CRCCs aim to contribute to the support and maintenance of caring relationships by facilitating access to information, respite care and other support appropriate to carers’ needs and circumstances, and the needs of the people they care for. The nearest CRCC can be contacted by phoning 1800 052 222* during business hours or 1800 059 059* for emergency respite support outside standard business hours.

Carers Australia

Carers Australia is the peak national body representing carers of people with a disability, mental illness, chronic condition or those who are frail or aged. Carers Australia provides information, support, education, training and counselling. For more information telephone 1800 242 636* or visit Carers Australia (

Financial assistance for carers

The government, through Centrelink, provides financial support to carers through the following:

  • Carer Payment
  • Carer Allowance

For more information please telephone Centrelink on 132 717* or visit the Department of Human Services (

More information

DVA General Enquiries

* Calls from mobile phones and pay phones may incur additional charges.

Related factsheets


The information contained in this Factsheet is general in nature and does not take into account individual circumstances. You should not make important decisions, such as those that affect your financial or lifestyle position on the basis of information contained in this Factsheet. Where you are required to lodge a written claim for a benefit, you must take full responsibility for your decisions prior to the written claim being determined. You should seek confirmation in writing of any oral advice you receive from DVA.

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9 August 2019