Grandparents battle to be key stakeholders in protecting grandchildren


  • Susan Gair James Cook University
  • Ines Zuchowski



grandparents, grandchildren, family-inclusive child protection practice


INTRODUCTION: Grandparents are increasingly involved in the care of grandchildren, including after child protection intervention.

METHOD: A recent Australian qualitative research partnership explored how relationships between grandparents and their grandchildren could be optimised after child safety concerns.  Interviews and focus groups were undertaken with 77 participants, including 51 grandparents, 12 parents, six foster carers and eight child and family workers. Emerging themes reported here focus on the role of grandparents and their perceptions of, and interactions with, the child protection system.

FINDINGS: Overall, findings identify that grandparents wanted to help safeguard their grandchildren but many encountered an adversarial child protection system that left them feeling powerless, fearful and unimportant. Aboriginal participants reiterated that child protection workers needed to better understand how maintaining kinship networks provided a protective factor for Aboriginal children, and that grandparents were key stakeholders in their grandchildren’s lives.

IMPLICATIONS: The findings from this study affirm the value and role of grandparents and highlight the need for implemented family-inclusive child protection practice within and beyond the Australian context.

Author Biography

Susan Gair, James Cook University

Susan Gair is Associate Professor in Social Work at James Cook University.


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How to Cite

Gair, S., & Zuchowski, I. (2019). Grandparents battle to be key stakeholders in protecting grandchildren. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 31(1), 101–113.



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