The Guides to Social Policy Law is a collection of publications designed to assist decision makers administering social policy law. The information contained in this publication is intended only as a guide to relevant legislation/policy. The information is accurate as at the date listed at the bottom of the page, but may be subject to change. To discuss individual circumstances please contact Services Australia.

1.1.R.250 Respite care


Respite care refers to the provision of care for a person with a disability, severe medical condition or who is frail aged, by an organisation or another person other than the carer for a temporary period so the carer can have a break from caring.


  • holidays and breaks
  • personal or family needs
  • ill health.

Respite care is provided:

  • by professional or governmental organisations, or
  • by friends or family.

Respite care can be on either a professional or voluntary basis and may be in a private home, or a residential centre.

The carer can remain qualified for CA or CP provided temporary absences from the care receiver do not exceed 63 days in a calendar year.

The temporary cessation of care provisions for CA and CP should not be confused with formal respite funded through DSS and the Department of Health and Aged Care.

A carer can be paid CP and/or CA during a temporary absence from Australia to travel overseas for up to 6 weeks. If the carer travels overseas without the care receiver and the temporary cessation of care provisions are exceeded before the portability expires, eligibility for CP and/or CA ceases.

Example: Kathleen is a full time carer for her husband Tom. Kathleen intends to travel overseas for 4 weeks while Tom is in respite care. As Kathleen has already utilised 50 temporary cessation of care days this calendar year, CP will be cancelled once the balance of the temporary cessation of care provisions (13 days) is exceeded. Kathleen can reapply for CP once she returns from overseas and resumes caring for Tom.

Act reference: SSAct section 198AC Effect of cessation of care etc. on CP, section 957 Effect of cessation of care etc. on CA

Policy reference: SS Guide Qualification for CP during temporary cessation of care, Qualification for CA during temporary cessation of care, Application of portability rules (portability table)

Last reviewed: