Many grandparents are shouldering the responsibility for care of their grandchildren with little recognition from governments or the community, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Larry Anthony, said today.
COTA National Seniors were funded $150,000 by the Australian Government to gather information and identify ways of better supporting grandparents in their caring role.
“There are more than 27,700 children under the age of 15 years living with their grandparents only. This is more than twice the number of children living in foster care.
“COTA National Seniors report that many grandparents feel they are caring for their grandchildren with little recognition from governments or the community. They also feel that they do not have enough information or understanding of legal issues regarding custody of their grandchildren, and little knowledge of support that is available to them.
“The Australian Government is considering the report’s broad-ranging recommendations. To facilitate this I have asked the Department of Family and Community Services to convene a reference group that will include Centrelink and the Departments of Health and Ageing and Attorney-General. The reference group will coordinate a response to the report and consider issues effecting grandparents in their policy areas.
“There are a number of initiatives currently being undertaken to better support grandparents caring for their grandchildren, such as:
- Development of a Centrelink Service Strategy to increase staff awareness of the issues faced by grandparents raising grandchildren;
- $150,000 funding to Mirabel to update their “When the children arrive …”booklet for national release;
- $3.2 million under the National Early Childhood Agenda for a Parenting Information Project which includes grandparents in the target group;
- The current House of Representatives Inquiry into Child Custody Arrangements has a specific terms of reference looking at the circumstances in which a court can order contact between grandparents and their grandchildren after separation; and,
- The developing National Plan for Foster Carers and Children will address the key role of kinship/relative carers and will examine ways of supporting relatives and kinship carers, including grandparents.
“The Australian Government is committed to ensuring all Australian children get the best start in life. We will continue to work with COTA National Seniors and other representative groups to develop further responses to this important report to better recognise and support grandparents looking after their grandchildren,” Mr Anthony said.
The report – Grandparents Raising Grandchildren: a report of the project commissioned by The Hon Larry Anthony, Minister for Children & Youth Affairs, and carried out by COTA National Seniors, July 2003 – is available on the FaCS website.