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Wednesday, 16 June 2010
Page: 5614

Mr SIMPKINS (9:54 AM) —I would like to make some comments this morning about grandparents caring for their grandchildren. I think that any of us who have been out doorknocking will have at some point come across the families that are unique. I remember a very clear example one day in Girrawheen before the last election, and on another occasion since, where I have gone up to a front door and a lady in her senior years has spoken to me and I have seen young children within the house. Particularly, in this case before the election, I saw two children from one of the local primary schools. I thought that maybe this was just grandma looking after the grandchildren after school or something like that. But, unfortunately, that was not the case at all. So often we find that grandparents have been forced to step into the breach after the parents have gone for whatever reason—sometimes their demise through an unfortunate accident, sometimes an inability to care for children because of drug addiction. These are certainly the sorts of examples that have occurred which have ended up placing children in the homes of their grandparents.

We should never underestimate the complexities, the problems involved for the grandparents in these circumstances. It can be expensive looking after young people, whether they are babies, at primary school or even secondary school. At exactly the time when older Australians, seniors, are starting to look forward to taking some time off or retiring, suddenly they are placed back into the situation that they were in some 20 or 30 years before, and that is a very difficult circumstance for them. They find it hard. They struggle with the financial aspects of that, of the life that has been forced upon them.

At the same time, it is hard enough for parents to relate to their teenagers at certain stages without having another 25 or 30 years of age between the young person and the carer. They are very difficult circumstances. When Sharyne de Young of the local grandparents caring for grandchildren group came to see me recently she certainly made some very clear points. She made it very clear how difficult it is for these people in these circumstances. It is certainly worth while that grandparents be seen very much in the same ilk as foster parents and that the same sort of support applies. (Time expired)