SHARYNE De Young does not want any more pats on the back for raising her granddaughter – she wants whoever is elected on May 18 to start providing proper support to grandcarers.
The Marangaroo grandmother has cared for her 12-year-old grandchild since she was a baby and is backing Wanslea’s A Fairer Future for Grandchildren campaign.
The campaign wants the next Federal Government to support and recognise grandcarers including by paying them an ongoing allowance similar to foster care subsidy payments, making them exempt from Newstart activity requirements and having the family tax benefit follow the child’s residence.
Ms De Young’s daughter gave birth when she and the father were about 17 and after the father left six months later, said her daughter “fell to pieces”.
“She just couldn’t do it and she up and left,” she said.
Ms De Young had to stop working to care for her granddaughter so has been unable to contribute to her superannuation since.
She said most grandcarers did not receive financial support nor the same benefits as foster carers.
“Anything to do with services, financial or anything, should stay with the child,” she said.
“That’s who we should be looking after: the child.
“I don’t want to be told I’m doing a good job, sometimes you just need a bit of help.”
She said she experienced a “grieving period” over the loss of her retirement and freedom, even losing friends, and pleaded for “a little bit of empathy”.
“Anybody could be doing this, nobody plans for this,” she said.
“Some people see us as glorified babysitters and we’re not.”
Girrawheen’s Marie Lanchares became the fulltime carer of her granddaughter when she was three months old, and five years later her young grandson, as her daughter was struggling with drug issues.
Her granddaughter is now aged 18 and though her daughter has been off drugs for eight years, the children want to stay with Ms Lanchares.
She said the financial and mental strain was difficult, and wanted more understanding from Centrelink.
“They just need to have some compassion for grandparents raising grandchildren,” she said.
“We don’t even get child support from the parents.”
Despite being a young grandparent, Ms Marie said it was tiring, and urged politicians to think about who they would want caring for their children if they were unable to.
“It’s not about us, it’s about the kids,” she said.
Ms De Young agreed there needed to be greater support to help grandchildren who were often struggling with trauma and mental health issues from the situation.
“I think the Federal Government should be paying a lot more attention to young people and people who are vulnerable and haven’t had mum and dad raise them,” she said.
“These children, through no fault of their own, have come into the world and we all need to help raise them.”
There are more than 5000 grandcarers in WA but they are not eligible for the same Centrelink payments and subsidies as foster carers.
Community News is joining Wanslea’s campaign for a fairer future for grandchildren to achieve better support and funding.
Sign a letter of support at www.wanslea.asn.au/wanslea/whats_new or email firstname.lastname@example.org.