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Wednesday, 1 November 2000
Page: 21963

Mr Latham asked the Minister representing the Minister for Family and Community Services, upon notice, on 31 August 2000:

(1) How many retired grandparents in Australia have full-time custody and care of their grandchildren?

(2) Does the Government recognise the special financial burden and lifestyle issues faced by grandparents in these circumstances; if so, what support does the Government provide through the social welfare system.

Mr Anthony (Minister for Community Services) —The Minister for Family and Community Services has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question:

(1) FaCS and Centrelink do not have data on the number of retired grandparents who have full-time custody and care of their grandchildren. However, Centrelink records indicate that there are around 5,500 customers aged 60 years and older receiving Family Tax Benefit. This would include grandparents receiving payment to assist them with the costs of raising their grandchildren.

(2) The Government acknowledges the valuable role that grandparents with the care of children play in the community. The Commonwealth provides a variety of payments to assist people in this situation, including Family Tax Benefit which helps families with the costs of raising children. Family Tax Benefit is equally available to natural parents, and to relatives who assume the care of children. Grandparents receiving Family Tax Benefit may also qualify for a Health Care Card for the children in their care.

Grandparents who have primary care of their grandchildren can access Child Care Benefit which allows them to put children in care for up to 50 hours per week per child while they work or study. They can use child care for voluntary work and are eligible for up to 20 hours per week per child for non-work related purposes. Entitlement to Child Care Benefit is assessed using the grandparents' income.

Grandparents may also be eligible for Double Orphan Pension in cases where one of the children's parents are dead and the other parent is either in gaol, a psychiatric institution or their whereabouts are unknown.

Grandparents may also be able to access other forms of income support, such as Parenting Payment and Carers Payment.