Supporting Qld Grandparents who have informal Care of their Grandchildren
The Time for Grandparents Program (TFG) provides telephone support, information and referrals for Queensland grandparents who are full-time caring for their grandchildren and who do not receive financial support from the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women. As part of TFG support to grandparents, the program provides brokerage for grandchildren to participate in sporting and recreational activities, assist paying for their school camps. Grandparents and their grandchildren attend Grandfamily Respite Weekend. These weekends give grandparents and grandchildren the opportunity to meet other families who are in similar situations which helps to normalise their caring role. The children have the opportunity to participate in adventure-based activities run by facilitators whilst the grandparents have access to social workers, psychologists, a lawyer and a financial counsellor. The camps are provided as either mainstream or cultural camps. The cultural camps are a modified version of the mainstream camps that have been adapted to incorporate cultural practices for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families. These camps are culturally safe, appropriate, utilising Aboriginal workers and incorporate Aboriginal practices such as Daddiri, yarning circles and campfire stories.
Feedback from grandparents has shown that the camps provide invaluable assistance for them through access to services that are offered, the opportunity to take a break from the caring role and meeting others who are dealing with similar issues to themselves. Grandparents on the program report feeling more socially connected and better able to manage in their caring role. Grandparent carers provide an invaluable service in our society but our grandparents have identified additional needs around financial assistance to enable them to raise their grandchildren well and provide for their school and home needs. Counselling for the grandchildren has also been identified as major concern for many children who have experienced trauma related issues.
A 2013 Senate Enquiry into Grandparents raising Grandchildren and a recent report by the Australian Institute of Family Studies (May 2018) has further highlighted these issues and the need for additional support. Grandparents who take on the caring role are providing an invaluable service and the cost savings are enormous when compared with the cost of placing these children in out-of-home-care. However, more needs to be done to ensure these grandparents are supported to enable them to continue caring for their grandchildren whereby their natural parents cannot provide safe and supportive environments children need.
Dulcie Bronsch is a traditional owner of the Kooma people of south-west Qld region with traditional links to the Gungarri people further west. Born and worked in Brisbane all her life, Dulcie has worked with and for the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander community in the south east Qld corner for 40 years. As a senior woman, I am passionate about helping families. As an advocate for her own people, Dulcie sees the injustice that fails to recognise the less fortunate people in their struggle, in particular vulnerable families that are not able to stand their ground.