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Wednesday, 19 September 2007
Page: 161

Mr PRICE (9:55 AM) —Mr Deputy Speaker Causley, I want to shock you but, firstly, I want to praise an aspect of a state government’s program and highlight concerns that I have about the national government. Parents as Teachers have provided some funding for grandparents who parent. I have met with the group a couple of times. They meet at the Madang Avenue Public School, and it is a great little group. What is unusual about them? It is just not that they are parents of orphans. Often these grandparents are in their twilight years and are accepting very young grandchildren and the responsibility for bringing them up. Why is this so? It is mostly because of alcohol abuse, substance abuse or domestic violence and sometimes because these children have been sexually assaulted. They often have very complex behavioural problems.

I would be critical of DOCS—I think DOCS could be doing a lot more to support these grandparents—but I also think that there is a role for the Commonwealth. This is a hidden group in our community that is doing a sterling job. But they are old, they get tired and they need a break. Often, respite is not available or they cannot afford to pay for it. They are doing a sterling job but it is very hard for them. Mr Deputy Speaker, you and I are grandparents and it is a joy. We have all the time and patience but we know that our grandchildren will go back to their parents. These grandchildren stay with their grandparents and I think the grandparents should be supported. The federal government needs to look at giving them additional assistance.

In my electorate some of the grandparents have worked but, unfortunately, they are now all dependent on social welfare. I do not think social welfare is meeting their needs, much less their grandchildren’s needs. I say to the federal government: let us put politics and the argy-bargy of an election aside. This is a very small but growing group in our community who are taking on a huge burden. The government should be grateful for the good work they are doing, but they need more assistance. I have mentioned respite, but these grandparents also run up all the sorts of bills that parents do but without the income of parents. (Time expired)