New report calls for a fairer future for grandcarers

More than 60 per cent of grandparent carers are living in poverty, according to a new report involving Edith Cowan University (ECU) research.


The report from Wanslea, Grandparents Rearing Grandchildren, Edith Cowan University and Curtin University is shining a light on the little-known plight of grandparent carers.


The research found that while grandparents love being primary carers for their grandchildren, poverty, stress and ill health are all hallmarks of this under researched and growing group of vulnerable carers.


ECU lead researcher Dr David Coall said the research highlights the challenges facing older Australians caring for their grandchildren.


“What we discovered in this study was a lack of support for grandparent carers is leading to major health, financial and emotional implications for these families,” he said.


“The findings have uncovered the serious consequences facing a hidden group that’s poorly understood and often overlooked. We hope the study leads to more attention and more research.”


According to Dr Coall, grandparent care is the fastest growing form of out-of-home care for vulnerable children in Australia.


“Most children come into grandparent care because it has become unsafe for them to live at home with their parents,” said Dr Coall.


“Vulnerable children have unique needs that require high levels of support and we know that kids do better being cared for by family as they maintain their social and emotional connections.”


The key findings:

  • 66% of all grandparent carers are living below the poverty line, and most are forced to make changes to their employment, housing and finances when they become carers
  • There are major health impacts across all aspects of grandparents’ health when they become carers, their physical, social, mental and emotional health all suffer as a result
  • The current services and legal system do not recognise and are unable to respond to the unique needs of grandparent carers.


The research project spanned three years and involved more than 600 grandparent carers.


The report – ‘A Fairer Future for Grandchildren: Understanding the Impact of the Caring Role on Grandparents raising their Grandchildren’ – was released by Wanslea.


Video testimonials from grandcarers are available from the Grandparents Rearing Grandchildren campaign website


27 June 2021.