Journal of Family Violence

, Volume 34, Issue 4, pp 321–329 | Cite as

‘In the Firing Line’: Grandparent Carers at Risk of Family Violence

  • Susan GairEmail author
  • Ines Zuchowski
  • Rosamund Thorpe
  • Debbie Henderson
  • Lyn Munns
Original Article


Increasingly, children deemed to be at risk of harm are being placed in kin care, most often with grandparents. Factors triggering the removal of children from their parents can include family breakdown, child neglect, substance misuse, poverty and family violence. Equally, these factors can result in children becoming disconnected from extended family. A prevailing concern in Australia is the over-representation of Aboriginal children in child protection services, and disrupted connections to their family and culture. The primary aim of a recent qualitative study was to optimise grandparent-grandchild connectedness after child safety concerns. Interviews and focus groups were conducted with a total of 77 participants. Grandparents were the primary sample recruited, however smaller numbers of workers, parents and foster carers contributed to the study. Discussed here are themes emerging from the qualitative data that pointed to grandparents being at greater risk of intrafamilial violence than previously may have been recognised after they step in to care for grandchildren. Recommendations from this study include a call for increased culturally and historically-informed practice approaches that take account of the interconnected nature of violence in families.


Grandparents Grandchildren Family violence Child protection Culturally- informed practice 



The authors gratefully acknowledge the willing time investment of all participants and partner organisations. We thank Bindal elder Mrs. Dorothy Savage for her guidance.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.James Cook UniversityDouglasAustralia
  2. 2.Family Inclusion NetworkTownsvilleAustralia
  3. 3.Family Inclusion Western AustraliaWannerooAustralia

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