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Research Report: The legal needs of older people
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The legal needs of older people  ( 2004 )  Cite this report



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Chapter 10. Grandparenting


Introduction


There are a number of legal problems that older people can experience in relation to their roles as grandparents. Many people over the age of 65 years are grandparents or great-grandparents. Statistics on the proportion of grandparents in this age group, however, are not available.

Grandparents can be involved in their grandchildren’s lives in a variety of ways.


    They are teachers, feeders and fixers, bakers and baby sitters ... They are also consolers and carers, historians and taxi drivers. The list is endless.1

The grandparent/grandchild relationship can range from occasional contact as part of a family visit through to full time care. The relationship is often characterised by grandparents as a tenuous one. It is usually the parent(s) rather than the grandparent(s) who control the level of contact between grandparent(s) and grandchild(ren). The relationship is also conditional upon an amicable relationship with the parent(s).

According to Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data, in 1999 grandparents were the main providers of informal childcare with 37 per cent of children under the age of 12 receiving informal child care, more than half of which was provided by grandparents.2 They were more likely to be the informal carers of very young children than older children.3 Increasing reliance on grandparents for informal care arrangements correlates with women’s increasing participation in the workforce. Indeed, ABS data show that for both formal and informal care, the reasons most commonly given for placing children in care were work-related.4

Formal childcare can be costly, particularly for economically disadvantaged families. Informal care by grandparents has become more popular over the years. Problems can arise, however, when for some reason the situation changes.



Gonski, H., Grandparenting: The New Challenge, paper presented at the Grandparenting Raising Grandchildern Seminar, Council on the Ageing, Sydney, 25 October 2002, p. 1.
Australian Bureau of Statistics, Child care arrangements, Australian Social Trends 2001, Catalogue n.4102.0, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, 2001. Available at <http://www.abs.gov.au/Ausstats/abs%40.nsf/94713ad445ff1425ca25682000192af2/436e561e501068f0ca256bcd00825567!OpenDocument> (Last accessed 24 September 2003).
Australian Bureau of Statistics, Child care arrangements.
Australian Bureau of Statistics, Child care arrangements.

 Gonski, H., Grandparenting: The New Challenge, paper presented at the Grandparenting Raising Grandchildern Seminar, Council on the Ageing, Sydney, 25 October 2002, p. 1.
 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Child care arrangements, Australian Social Trends 2001, Catalogue n.4102.0, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, 2001. Available at <http://www.abs.gov.au/Ausstats/abs%40.nsf/94713ad445ff1425ca25682000192af2/436e561e501068f0ca256bcd00825567!OpenDocument> (Last accessed 24 September 2003).
 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Child care arrangements.
 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Child care arrangements.


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Ellison, S, Schetzer, L, Mullins, Perry, J & Wong, K 2004, The legal needs of older people in NSW, Law and Justice Foundation of NSW, Sydney