LABOR candidate for Pearce Kim Travers knows first hand the vital role grandparent carers play in the community.
“My two siblings and I were raised by our paternal grandparents from the time I was six years old in Merredin,” she said.
“I have never taken for granted the sacrifice my grandparents made to care for us when they should have had time to themselves after raising their own children.
“Grandparent carers do an incredibly important job holding our families and communities together, and they aren’t paid for it.”
Ms Travers said while grandcarers had access to the Family Tax Benefit and Grandparent Additional Child Care Subsidy many missed out because state and federal systems weren’t working together and the Federal Government had made cuts to Centrelink staff.
She said Labor would improve the way the Government worked with the states to identify grandparent carers and ensure they were getting as much support as possible.
“Labor will help relieve the financial pressure on grandparents by employing an additional 1200 Centrelink staff,” Ms Travers said.
Wanslea research and evaluation manager Katrina Stratton while the staff increase would help reduce response and waiting times for grandparent carers, an expansion of the role of grandparent advisors would be more useful to provide specialised services to help grandparents access Centrelink payments.
Pearce MHR Christian Porter said the Federal Government had a range of services available to grandcarers, including the Grandparent Advisor Program that helped grandparent carers access Federal Government payments and services as well as other support organisations.
“Grandparents may be eligible for a range of Australian Government financial support such as the Family Tax Benefit, which is accessed by around 20,000 grandparents Australia wide,” Mr Porter said.
“In other circumstances, they may be eligible for the Child Care Benefit or Paid Parental Leave, and other supplementary payments and benefits like Rent Assistance, Health Care Cards and a lower threshold of the Medicare Safety Net.”
Dr Stratton said Wanslea’s call to action asked for current processes to be made simpler, more equitable and more accessible.
“In many instances the payments are only available to formal kinship carers, whereas all grandparent carers whether they are connected to child protection services or not, should have access to these payments to sustain them in their caring role,” she said.
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.