Grandparents may be the unsung casualties of lockdown. Stopped from seeing their grandchildren, many have skilled up on FaceTime and Zoom in order to spend some precious moments with them. 

The trend has not gone unnoticed by the Rev Ian Barnett, organiser of this year’s National Grandparents Conference. “The reality is – and we're noticing this for our conference on Friday – that grandparents have no option if they want to stay connected.”

He says grandparents “have to Zoom or FaceTime, and while there might have been reluctance maybe a little while ago, with the [COVID] numbers going up each day – even with a sense of frustration – they just have to do it, because they're missing their grandkids.”

Mr Barnett is the CEO and founder of the National Grandparent Movement, which grew out of the annual conference held at Figtree Anglican Church.

“Grandkids are missing the connection with grandparents as well, which means a lot more of the responsibilities falling on parents’ shoulders,” he says. “[This] is a growing challenge but, again, it seems that there's no option.” 

He says this year’s conference, on Friday, is entirely online and so an ideal place to deal with the issue. International speaker Josh McDowell, well-known apologist and evangelist, will be speaking on topics such as “Relationships that Transform”. Former Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson will speak about how  “The Jungle is encroaching on the garden – let’s teach our grandchildren how to garden again”.

Says Mr Barnett: “We already had the speakers arranged – for example, Greg Anderson, Bishop of the Northern Territory, is speaking about how to grandparent from a distance and so that'll be helpful. Josh McDowell is doing his talks from America, and he's talking about the power relationships and the need to stay connected, no matter what. John Anderson also touches on it. So, it will be addressed.”

Last minute registrations are open for the conference at and, as it is online, participants are not restricted to joining solely on Friday, September 3.

“We've organised it in four sessions so you can watch it in one day on Friday, or you can watch it over 2½ weeks,” Mr Barnett says. “The links themselves will be available till about the 20th of September. 

“I think grandparents are getting more savvy with watching as well, which is great, and I think they're realising this is actually the way of the future.”

Photo by Ekaterina Shakharova on Unsplash