Western Australian Grandcarer Families: State-wide Survey, Diverse Grandcarers and Leadership Camps

Grandparents who care full time for their grandchildren
Wednesday 25 July, 1440 – 1500

Presenters

David Coall
School of Medicine, University of Western Australia

Myra Taylor
School of Medical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan University

Ruth Marquis
School of Medical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan University

Francesca Robertson
Kurongkurl Katitjin, Edith Cowan University

Michelle Jenkins
Community Vision Inc

Abstract
The 2014 Senate Inquiry into grandparents raising their grandchildren highlighted the challenges grandcarers face when taking on the work of full-time parenting responsibilities. The inquiry called for research to quantify these challenges and review the supports for grandcarer families.
This research project aims to provide the quality data necessary to guide policy and practice. This paper will present an overview and preliminary progress in a large interdisciplinary project examining the lives of grandcarers in Western Australia, and pilot data supporting the development of this multi-level, mixed method approach. The state-wide survey will identify the grandparent, grandchild and system issues grandcarer families face and explore their impact on grandcarers’ mental and physical health.
This project will incorporate specific methods to access the broadest range of grandcarers ever heard before in Australia. Finally, the voices of grandchildren from grandcarer families will be heard through the evaluation of leadership camps, which provide respite and skills development. The supporting pilot data consists of qualitative (49 interviews) and quantitative (88 surveys) information from Western Australian grandcarers. The majority (76%) of grandcarers surveyed identified respite as high-priority issue. To quickly translate this information, a pilot respite program was developed: Take a Break Camp for Grandkids. Feedback from both grandparents and grandchildren shows the respite camp gave them time to engage in activities and socialise with peers, “normalising” a week in their lives.
The current project will give a voice to all grandcarers and grandchildren and provide a thorough evaluation of the camps.