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Grandparent-headed Families Continue to Grow

  • Synopsis: Published: 2010-10-07 - Number of families in which grandparents were the primary caregivers was increasing. For further information pertaining to this article contact: Department of aging, Disability and Home Care.

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A report detailing the issues faced by grandparents who are acting as full time carers for their grandchildren will be released today by the Council on the aging (COTA) NSW.

The Minister for aging, Peter Primrose, said the number of families in which grandparents were the primary caregivers was increasing.

Mr Primrose said the report, Listening to Grandparents, which was funded by the Keneally Government, showed these grandparents often faced major upheaval in their lives and severe financial and emotional strain. "They may struggle and often feel ill-prepared to deal with a role which has been taken on out of love, and a deep sense of duty and care," he said. "They can also experience considerable grief at the loss of the traditional grandparent role as they make a shift in commitment from 'grandparent' to 'grandparent as parent'."

Mr Primrose said the Australian Bureau of Statistics estimated there were more than 22,500 grandparent-headed families in 2003, but this number is thought to have increased.

He said that a Grandparent Forum hosted by COTA NSW and the Ministerial Advisory Committee on aging in 2008 found that grandparents reported feeling invisible, undeserving, voiceless and socially isolated within the community.

Mr Primrose said that Listening to Grandparents, which is based on the forum's discussions, gave personal accounts of what it was like for grandparents raising their grandchildren. "Pressures on grandparents are very different from those encountered half a century ago."

"The solutions today are less obvious and finding them is more complicated."

Mr Primrose said that the Keneally Government had already started implementing some of the report's recommendations.

"For example, the Attorney General has just recently introduced a standard statutory declaration which enables grandparents informally looking after a child to make a statutory declaration that they are responsible for their regular care," he said. "This is already making it easier for grandparents who informally care for children to provide consent for day-to-day activities, such as school excursions, in the absence of the parents."

Mr Primrose praised COTA NSW for producing the report and noted its other achievements, which include the Raising Grandchildren website, a resource for grandparents to navigate support available to them, and the establishment of the Grandparent, Relative and Kinship Carer Alliance.

Mr Primrose said that since the study was initiated, the Keneally Government had provided $200,000 to the Council on aging for projects that support and acknowledge grand-parenting.

"COTA NSW has also run a Legal Pathways for Older People pilot that enables grandparents denied access to grandchildren and those raising their grandchildren to seek timely and free legal advice," Mr Primrose said.

"Grandparents have a central role in our community and I am pleased to assist the Council on the aging to support and acknowledge the valuable contribution of grandparents."

For more information on the report or on COTA NSW programs please visit:

Related Information:

  1. Grandparents Day - Facts and Statistics on Grandparents
  2. New Year Resolutions for Grandparents

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