Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Seniors week kicks off with a new program for grandparents

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, will today mark the start of Seniors Week in Victoria by outlining an exciting and innovative new training program aimed at equipping grandparents with the skills to help local families at a function at Moonee Valley council.

Senator Patterson said the Australian Government had provided $60,000 funding for Grandparents Victoria to run a series of training sessions for up to 50 grandparents. This training will help grandparents to develop the skills they need to become community volunteers who will then work with their local government and community groups to support local families, particularly those with children at risk.

“The Grandparents: The community alchemists of the 21st century will involve training grandparents across a number of areas throughout Victoria, including Moonee Valley, Brimbank, Frankston, Ballarat, Mornington Peninsula, and Banyule.

“What is so great about this project is that it is based on volunteering and good will. The trainers have lent their expertise to help the grandparents. The grandparents themselves will then volunteer their services to help some of the more vulnerable families in their local community.

“For many families and communities, grandparents are the ‘bed-rock’ of care and stability and this project will enable them to develop and apply their valuable support skills for families with special needs.

“It is particularly important that grandparents have this opportunity to share their communication skills, their ability to work with people of all ages and all walks of life, as well as drawing on a lifetime of experience.

“This project will also provide a long-lasting legacy for many other communities, through the development of a comprehensive training manual which can be used by local governments and community organisations across Australia.

“It is a great example of what can be achieved when governments and communities work together to promote a ‘can do’ community spirit – helping build stronger, more self-reliant communities,” Senator Patterson said.

Moonee Valley Mayor, Mark Kennedy, said that in Moonee Valley some grandparents would be working with families coping with multiple births, some would be involved in reading programs with young children, others will be working with teenage single mothers.

“The list of areas where grandparents can help is limitless,” Mr Kennedy said.

Grandparents Victoria Director, Anne McLeish welcomed the Australian Government funding to develop grandparents’ leadership skills and to utilise their care, experience and compassion to the community.

“We are all very committed to this project and excited about the prospect of developing such an innovative and positive program,” Ms McLeish said.

Senator Patterson said the pressures facing families in this modern era meant that grandparents are called upon far more often to help their families cope with the stresses.

“Family breakdown, the demands of balancing work and family, and community isolation are leading many parents to turn to their parents for help with raising their children.

“It seems that the greater the relationship, workplace, financial or child-rearing stress parents are feeling within the family, the greater the demands seem to be on the grandparents, yet many can still find time to help others in need – that’s simply inspiring,” Senator Patterson said.

Grandparents wishing to join this program should contact Anne McLeish on (03) 9372 2422.