Grandparent carers face poverty

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 focused 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.


“It could be seen that it is not in the federal government’s interests for it [children] 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.


23 October 2021.