Priscilla Tautuhi said a few weeks ago she had reached a crisis point and felt she had nowhere to turn. Then she met Sue Hammond.
The pair have instantly bonded over their shared experience of having custody of their grandchildren. Wondering how many other grandparents are facing the challenge alone, they now want to start a support group.
I thought how many others are out there like me, doing it so hard, running into brick walls and getting no support? said Priscilla. I had no family support, no social support and I felt like my heart was broken. Talking to Sue, it was like a whole burden was taken off my shoulders. It was really funny that both our daughters were the same age.
Sue said grandparents caring for their grandkids had the additional emotional turmoil of dealing with their own children and yet they were offered less support than foster carers.
Grandparents dont even get a case worker, she said. DoCS (the Department of Community Services) more or less get your file and put it in the cupboard because they think its good the children are with their family.
Sue said she was pleased her grandkids were with family so they didnt lose their sense of identity, however, with the number of grandparent carers rising, she was worried there was no co-ordinated point of reference or support.
She said things were even more difficult for single grandparents.
I was never a single parent, she said. But now Im a single grandparent. I was living by myself, I could do what I wanted, I was doing voluntary work. Now Im at school mixing with parents. Im out of step with my age group.
In 2001 Sue joined an informal group called Off Our Rockers, but said the cups of tea and a chat approach was too unfocused and the group had now disintegrated.
Priscilla said there was obviously a need out there and if they found enough interest, they would try to get funding for a trained facilitator/co-ordinator.
Were keen to start pushing for things, she said. Wed like to have family outings barbecues and picnics with our kids.
To register your interest call Priscilla on 6624 7925 or Sue on 6689 0456.
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