Wednesday, 4 August 2021
Statements by Senators
I rise this afternoon to talk about an issue in our community that has gone from being very, very invisible to being very, very visible. At the outset, I'd just like to congratulate this Australian Senate chamber and senators in this place and, indeed, members of parliament across the country who have consistently sought to draw greater attention to the very real issue of grandparents raising grandchildren in our community.
In particular, I would like to draw attention to what I think is a very important and critical report: A fairer future for grandchildren: understanding the impact of the caring role on grandparents raising their grandchildren. This report has been prepared by Wanslea Family Services in Western Australia, supported by Edith Cowan University in Western Australia and by Curtin University, again in Western Australia. I'm delighted to have been in the research advisory group for that meeting. I'll be the first one to admit that I didn't get the opportunity to attend every meeting, but they did know my very, very keen interest in drawing attention to this issue and also developing a plan for future action.
I want to share with the Senate a number of what I think are very critical statistics from that report that really do remind us of how critically important this issue is. Forty-four per cent of grandparent carers in Western Australia are single, and most often they are women. Seventy per cent of families with grandparent carers have a grandmother as the primary or sole carer. Seventy-seven per cent of grandparent carers are 50 to 69 years old. One to two more grandchildren are raised by Aboriginal grandparent carers than by non-Aboriginal grandparent carers.
Let's just think about the grandchildren. The report reminds us that 50 per cent of children came into care due to parent alcohol and/or drug use. Twelve per cent lived with their grandparents for longer than 10 years, with 16 per cent entering the informal care of their grandparents aged 10 to 14 years. Twenty per cent came into care aged one year old or less.
This is the image I would like people to think about when I remind them of these statistics. Think about the statistics not as numbers but as an image. Seventy-seven per cent of grandparent carers are 50 to 69 years of age; 44 per cent of them are single, most often women; and 20 per cent of grandchildren came into the care—