Breaking isolation and supporting older Australians

The focus of the 2017 Social Justice Small Grants program was on projects that address social justice issues concerning older people. Projects that were prioritised brought about a more inclusive society for older people, restored dignity to older people and fostered solidarity among all generations, especially the young and old.

The following 3 projects were funded under this program.

Assisting Grandparents and Grandcarers: Educational support fund

Grandparents For Grandchildren SA Inc (GFGSA) is an organisation that formed as a result of the need to support and encourage grandparents and other carer relatives who are struggling with the responsibilities of raising their grandchildren.

Many grandparents are elderly, retired and have limited financial resources, not expecting to have the responsibility of bringing up children later in life. They recognise that by caring for their grandchildren, the impact of separation is much less upsetting than if they were to go into foster care.

The Mercy Foundation awarded a small grant to the organisation for their Grandcarers Education Support Fund, to help grandparents afford the materials, experiences and services that children need to support their learning and for extracurricular activities.

To date, 14 families have been assisted by this project. Funds have been used to pay for sports club fees, computer laptops, iPads for school, school camp fees, school uniforms and school shoes.

Two other projects currently underway are:

Community Food Project by Produce to the People, Burnie Tasmania: A project designed to foster multigenerational collaboration between high school students and older members of the community through weekly visits to a farm on the campus of a high school. The participants interact with students on activities such as planting, gardening and sorting. So far, the participants are greatly enjoying the program, benefitting through improved physical fitness and from the conversations and interaction with students.

Outreach Project by Red Bend Catholic College: This project provided funding for equipment for students to provide services such as weeding, mowing, whipper snipping, hedging, pruning, window cleaning, watering and planting for older people and people in need in the Forbes area. So far, 40 volunteer students have assisted more than 28 people in the local area. Both the students and recipients have enjoyed the experience, encouraging young people to recognise how they can give back to their community and giving older people a greatly appreciated service and social interaction.