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Media release – Grandparents face poverty as governments handball responsibility for children in care

Grandparents caring for their grandchildren face poverty as they use life savings to care for children with state and territory governments saying the federal government must support them. A national forum with Australian and international speakers today focuses on what can be done to better support thousands of elderly informal kinship carers falling between the cracks.  

“These informal carers are falling between the cracks as Federal, State and Territory Governments fail to take responsibility to fund the support they and the children in their care need,” says Lindsay Wegener, Executive Director of PeakCare. 

“Older informal kinship carers make significant sacrifices including postponing retirement, withdrawing superannuation, spending their life savings, changing careers, disrupting relationships and being forced into poverty simply to keep their family together.  

“State and territory governments are denying responsibility by saying the children aren’t in formal foster or kinship care so aren’t their responsibility. They say it’s an income support issue and therefore a federal government issue. 

“The buck passing of responsibility to support these children not in state care means there is little support. Older kinship carers either face or experience poverty as they become parents for a second time. 

“Informal kinship care is provided by grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, cousins, and other relatives at great cost to themselves as they provide safe and loving care to keep children out of the child protection system,” says Lindsay. 

“The exact number of children in informal care with grandparents and older carers is unknown.  These hidden carers could be looking after as many as 100,000 children nationally and up to 20,000 children in Queensland.  

“We know how many children in the care of the State are living with kin. But how many children who are not in care are living with their grandparents, aunties and uncles, brothers and sisters, and cousins? Around four times that number. 

“One of the major things that we will be promoting during the forum is that it is a problem that no-one knows the exact number. We will be advocating for it to be counted in the census. 

“It could be seen that it is not in the federal government’s interests for it to be counted because if the number is known, it makes it easier to argue that they have a responsibility to support them. From the Australian Government’s perspective, it might seem better that the figure remains unknown because the problem can then remain hidden,” says Lindsay. 

 

Lindsay Wegener, PeakCare Executive Director, 0437 726 192 

Mark Jeffery, media, 0419 732 583 

 

What Informal Carers Need, What They Really Really Need: Kinship Care Forum IV financial and other pressures faced by informal kinship carers held during Anti-Poverty Week with national & international speakers from the UK & NZ shining a light on needs of informal carers & children in their care.  

 

More action needed to support Grandparent Carers 

Rachel Siewert, former Senator and Chair of the Community Affairs inquiry into Grandparent Carers 

Grandparent carers are caring for grandchildren with inadequate support, what progress has been made since the Senate inquiry and where to from here? 

 

Panel discussion on systemic issues and human rights considerations for informal kinship carers 

Scott McDougall, Qld Human Rights Commissioner 

Garth Morgan, CEO, Qld Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Protection Peak 

Natalie Lewis, Commissioner, Qld Family and Child Commission 

Systemic issues and human rights considerations for informal kinship carers 

 

Kinship care outside of child protection – invisible and unrecognised 

Dr Meredith Kiraly, Honorary Research Fellow, University of Melbourne 

Outlines the estimated prevalence of informal kinship care in Australia, UK and USA. Discusses research about informal kinship care families. Support inclusions and exclusions for informal kinship care families in Australia and strategies to promote recognition and to achieve real support for Informal Kinship Carers. 

 

Panel discussion on the Time for Grandparents Program 

Dulcie Bronsch, Senior Project Officer, Time for Grandparents Program, UnitingCare & grandparent carer 

Includes informal kinship carer with lived experience to discuss UnitingCare’s Time for Grandparents Program, a service providing support for Qld Grandparents who informally care for their grandchildren. 

 

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren – A New Zealand perspective 

Jill Worrall, MSW, Ph.D. Retired Senior Lecturer, Board Director, and Social Work Consultant  

Kate Bundle, LLB, Chief Executive, Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Trust New Zealand 

Experiences and advocacy in New Zealand on informal kinship care including the work of the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Trust NZ which supports over 5,700 grandparent and whānau care member families.  

 

Fairer Future for Grandchildren: Understanding Caring Role Impact on Grandparents Raising Grandchildren 

Dr Anita Lumbus, Research and Development Officer, Wanslea 

This presentation will discuss a three-year research project, a partnership between Wanslea, Edith Cowan University, Curtin University and Grandparents Rearing Grandchildren WA Inc, which explored the impact of the caring role on grandparents to inform policy and service responses. The presentation will discuss the key research findings and calls to action, including the role of government to better recognise and support grandparent carers in order to keep their grandchildren safe and secure in their care. 

 

The Poor Relations? Children’s and Carers’ Experiences of Informal Kinship Care in the UK 

Elaine Farmer, Emeritus Professor, Child & Family Studies, School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol 

This presentation considers the extent of informal kinship care in the UK and findings from a UK study which included interviews with 80 children in informal kinship care and their carers. These interviews – and the measures used in the research – revealed the multiple challenges and strain for kinship carers, the levels of children’s difficulties and the lack of service response to carers’ requests for help. 

 

Progress update on the Carer Research Project 

Carol Vale, Managing Director, Murawin Pty Ltd 

This presentation will focus on the progress of the Carers Research Project undertaken by the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) in partnership with Murawin. Funded by the Morrison Government in 2020, this project is now nearing completion. Carol Vale, Murawin’s Managing Director will describe the purpose of the project, how it was conducted and some of the major themes that have emerged in the research findings. 

 

Lindsay Wegener, PeakCare Executive Director, 0437 726 192 

Mark Jeffery, media, 0419 732 583 

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