Mothers

The latest material added to the Australian Institute of Family Studies library database is displayed, up to a maximum of 30 items. Where available online, a link to the document is provided. Many items can be borrowed from the Institute's library via the Interlibrary loan system.

See more resources on Mothers in the AIFS library catalogue

Teenage mother's health across different life stages

Kalb G and Vu H
Indooroopilly, Qld. : Life Course Centre, Institute for Social Science Research, University of Queensland, 2021.
This paper adds to what is known about the poor lifetime outcomes often experienced by teenage mothers. It looks at health outcomes and what factors play a role in the increased risk of worse physical health, bodily pain, vitality, mental health, emotional functioning, social functioning, and emotional problems over a 15 year period. Data is taken from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey, comparing women who had had a child before the age of 20 with women who had either had a child after that age or who had had no children. The findings indicate that teenage motherhood is negatively associated with health and that this impact worsens in later life. The findings suggest that these women were already at risk of disadvantage before becoming a mother, and that family, social support, education and economic factors partly explain the poor mental health outcomes, though not the physical health outcomes. In particular, better mental health outcomes for teenage mothers are associated with social support, a stable and positive partner relationship, and good economic outcomes.

Psychosocial factors associated with trajectories of maternal psychological distress over a 10-year period from the first year postpartum: an Australian population-based study.

Wajid A, Kingston D, Bright K, Kashif Mughal M, Charrois E and Giallo R
Journal of Affective Disorders v. 263 Feb 2020: 31-38
Maternal mental health problems can extend for years for some women - well beyond the antenatal period. This article investigates the patterns and early warnings signs for persistent maternal mental health problems. Data is taken for mothers participating in the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children, from child infancy to ten years of age. The study identified five distinct trajectories, associated with social and economic disadvantage and psychosocial stress. The strongest predictors were a history of depression and 3 or more stressful life events in the past year.

Final report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes

Ireland. Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes, Ireland. Dept. of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth
Dublin, Ireland : Dept. of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, 2021
The Irish Government established the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes in 2015 to provide a full account of what happened to vulnerable women and children in Mother and Baby Homes during the period 1922 to 1998. This report presents the Commission's findings and recommendations. The story of mother and baby homes in Ireland is complex and its nuances cannot easily be captured in a summary. The Homes provided free refuge for unmarried pregnant women who were rejected by their families and the fathers. Most were run by religious organisations, religious salvation of mothers and children was central to their mission. However, the women experienced harsh treatment and high rates of infant mortality were found: many infants were also adopted out overseas. Recommendations are made relating to information access, adoption tracing, infant burials, memorialisation, and redress.

COVID-19 school closures and parental labor supply in the United States

Amuedo-Dorantes C
Bonn, Germany : IZA, 2020.
This paper examines how school closures following the breakout of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States have impacted parental labor supply. It analyses daily information on school closures at the school-district level and data on employment and socio-demographic characteristics from the Current Population Survey from January 2019 through May 2020. The findings indicate significant reductions in the weekly work hours by both mothers and fathers of young school-age children in two-partnered households when face-to-face or physical school was placed on hold. The impacts are more noticeable among mothers, particularly if they were unable to telework, were non-essential workers, or did not have an adult (partner or else) in the household.

Mothers' understandings of 'home' after relationship separation and divorce.

Campo M, Fehlberg B, Natalier K and Smyth B
Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law 22 Oct 2020: Advance online publication
This article explores mothers' understandings of 'home' after relationship separation. It draws on interviews with 35 separated mothers, regarding how they defined a home and the barriers and facilitators they faced when creating a home after separation. The study found that these mothers saw 'home' as a complex, multidimensional and largely relational concept, with the physical space providing the context for safety and relationships with family and community. Over half of the mothers had experienced or were still experiencing family violence, affecting their value of a home and their ability to create one.

Mothering - a mode of protecting rather than parenting in the aftermath of post separation family violence in Australia.

Francia L, Millear P and Sharman R
Children Australia v. 45 no. 2 Jun 2020: 109-116
This article explores mothers' lived experiences of mothering in the context of post separation family violence and the family law system. Interviews were conducted with 36 separated women, who had experienced co-parenting conflict and family violence years after separation. The women were asked about their post separation experiences, post separation care arrangements, use of family court and legal service, contact with child protection services, and their capacity to nurture and care for a child following separation. The interviews revealed two key themes, highlighting adopting a mode of mothering as protecting rather than parenting, and the long-term impact and ongoing nature of family violence.

Inequality in Australia 2020. Part 2, Who is affected and why

Davidson P
Strawberry Hills, NSW : Australian Council of Social Service with the University of New South Wales, 2020.
This report series monitors the level, nature, and trends in poverty and inequality in Australia. This report expands on the previous overview report to provide a more detailed look at the groups of people most affected by income and wealth inequality and the causal factors involved. Data is taken for 2017/18 - the latest available data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics - and can serve as a baseline to assess the impacts of the more recent bushfire disaster and COVID-19 pandemic. The data shows that unequal distribution of earnings - especially access to full-time employment - is the main driver of income inequality. Households with female main earners - especially those with dependent children - have much lower incomes than those with male main earners, and couples are better off financially than singles and sole parent families.

Paying more or accepting less child support : parental compromises in CSA Private Collect.

Vnuk M, Smyth B and Aleema P
Australian Journal of Family Law v. 33 no. 3 Oct 2020: 243-263
The previous article in this series investigated why some non-resident fathers pay more than their 'official' child support obligation, and why some resident mothers accept less than they entitled to. Data for 733 parents registered with the Child Support Agency, as part of a broader study conducted in 2008, found that that private arrangements are widespread, but also raised concerns about the role of coercion in private arrangements, with suggestions that some resident mothers are being pressured to take less child support and that some nonresident fathers are paying extra in order to have regular contact with their children. This follow-up article examined these reasons in more detail, with a sample of 107 of the parents. The analysis found evidence of both cooperation and financial coercion, and highlights the need for further research into the nature of private arrangements struck as a result of intimidation or pressure.

Bargaining in the shadow of the Child Support Agency? : cooperative versus coercive private arrangements.

Smyth B, Vnuk M and Aleema P
Australian Journal of Family Law v. 33 no. 3 Oct 2020: 226-242
This is the second of three articles on 'private' child support arrangements in Australia. It investigates why some non-resident fathers pay more than their 'official' child support obligation, and why some resident mothers accept less than they entitled to. It analyses data for 733 parents registered with the Child Support Agency, as part of a broader study conducted in 2008. The data shows that one quarter of parents either paid more or accepted less child support than was due, and the majority of these cases were private arrangements where the Child Support Agency was not responsible for collecting payments. The findings suggest that private arrangements are widespread, with motivations including the desire to encourage parent-child contact, stop fights over parenting arrangements, and improve the perceived fairness of payments. The findings also raise concerns about the role of coercion in private arrangements, with suggestions that some resident mothers are being pressured to take less child support and that some nonresident fathers are paying extra in order to have regular contact with their children.

Who cares? : the conundrum for gender equality in legal practice.

Thornton M
University of New South Wales Law Journal v. 43 no. 4 Nov 2020: 1473-1493
Although women comprise the majority of practitioners in legal practice in Australia, the question of who cares remains an enduring challenge for gender equality. Against the backdrop of social and policy changes resulting from the feminisation of labour, this article pays particular attention to the role of flexible work in legal practice. It draws on two empirical projects - one involving corporate law firms and the other involving NewLaw firms. As the results were somewhat ambivalent, the article then turns to the feasibility of shared parenting regimes by drawing on studies from Scandinavia. These studies show that the unencumbered worker ideal is nevertheless resistant to sustained absences from work even though the norms of fatherhood are changing. The competing narratives of the 'new father' and the unencumbered worker who devotes himself to work therefore produce a paradox that underscores the ongoing elusiveness of gender equality in legal practice.

Births, Australia 2019

Australian Bureau of Statistics
Canberra, ACT : Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2020.
This website presents statistics on births and fertility trends in Australia. Information is provided for 2019 on the total fertility rate, registered births, maternal age, multiple births, Indigenous parents, births in each state and territory, and births mapped against capital city areas. Information is taken from registered births and projections based on 2016 Census data. There were 305,832 registered births in 2019, down 3% from 2018. Of the children born, 51.5% were male and 64.4% were to married parents. The total fertility rate was 1.66 births per woman, which has been below replacement since 1976.

Systematic review : effects of sustained nurse home visiting programs for disadvantaged mothers and children.

Molloy C, Beatson R, Harrop C, Perini N and Goldfeld S
Journal of Advanced Nursing 10 Oct 2020: Advance online publication
This article presents a review of the evidence on the benefits and impacts of sustained nurse home visiting programs. It summarises the findings of a systematic review of home visiting programs that targeted disadvantaged mothers, commenced during pregnancy or prior to the child's first birthday, had an intended duration of at least 12 months from the time of enrolment, and were delivered by nurses or midwives. The study found that these programs are of benefit to disadvantaged families, though effects vary and further research is needed.

Care leavers, ambiguous loss and early parenting : explaining high rates of pregnancy and parenting amongst young people transitioning from out-of-home care.

Purtell J, Mendes P and Saunders B
Children Australia 27 Nov 2020: Advance online publication
This article explores the high prevalence of pregnancy among care leavers. It discusses the literature on the association between the transition from care and early parenting, with reference to Boss's 2010 Ambiguous Loss theory, which contends that young people with experiences of child protection involvement and placement in out-of-home care may experience enduring feelings of loss associated with removal from their family, as well as from any placement instability. Sections in the article include: Prevalence of care leaver early parenting; Care leavers, removal from family and Ambiguous Loss theory; Reconnecting with family: choice or necessity?; Disenfranchised loss and grief; Relationships with family and social and community connections; The social exclusion of bureaucratic care; Pathways to care leavers' early parenting; The 'emotional void': wanted pregnancies and school as a preventative factor; Protective interventions: surveillance bias or support?; Poverty and protective interventions; Child removal and repeat pregnancies; Parenting support and 'turning lives around'; Extended care; Blaming the victim: exploitation and coercion; and Sex education and pregnancy prevention.

Antenatal care use and outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and their babies, 2016-2017

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
Canberra : Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2020.
This report explores the factors associated with antenatal care use by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers, and how these may relate to their babies' outcomes. A particular focus is how these vary across regions. Data is taken from the National Perinatal Data Collection for the 2-year period 2016-2017. The analysis found that use of antenatal care in the first trimester was associated with positive birth outcomes, while accessing care later in the pregnancy was associated with increased odds of low birthweight and neonatal intensive care, and no use of antenatal care was associated with increased odds of pre-term birth and perinatal death. The use of antenatal care varies across regions; though about 63% of Indigenous mothers attended antenatal care in the first trimester - an increase from 55% in 2014-2015 - the proportion of mothers attending care ranged from 40% to 84% by region.

Labour force status of families: June 2020.

Australian Bureau of Statistics
Canberra : Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2020.
This website provides information on the employment status of families in Australia, as of June 2020. The data indicates that, in June 2020, around 21.2% of all families were jobless - an 11.5% increase from 2019. Around 10.5% of all families with dependant children were jobless. Though families with dependant children have a lower level of joblessness than other family types, in 2020 they experienced a larger annual increase in joblessness than usual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It presents estimates based on the monthly Labour Force Survey, and continues the work of the annual series 'Labour force, Australia: labour force status and other characteristics of families'.

Why reform of the Child Care Subsidy would strengthen Australia's economy

McKell Institute
World Square, N.S.W. : McKell Institute, 2020.
In his October 2020 budget reply speech, the Opposition Leader proposed a Working Family Child Care Boost to reform the current Child Care Subsidy and increase female workforce participation and productivity. This paper evaluates this proposal and considers the benefits and impact of a universal Child Care Subsidy. It argues that the current Child Care Subsidy is holding back workforce participation and productivity growth and contributes to the gender gaps in income, pay, and superannuation savings. It contends that the Opposition Leader's proposal constitutes a strong economic reform in its own right, as well as a possible down payment on a universal system.

Improving the engagement of Aboriginal families with maternal and child health services : a new model of care.

Austin C and Arabena K
Public Health Research & Practice 30 Jul 2020: Advance online publication
This article describes the Early Assessment Referral Links (EARL) model, a new approach for improving the engagement of Aboriginal families in maternal and child health services. The model was developed by the Glenelg Shire Council in regional Victoria, and aims to improve the identification of families with children from conception to 6 years who are not engaged in maternal and child health services, or who are at risk of vulnerability, and link those families into local services. The concept was trialled from 2009-2014, and led to more access and engagement and identification of at risk families than the traditional service model, particularly for Aboriginal women and children. Also, there were increases in Aboriginal children being breastfed, fully immunised, and attending preschool, as well as increases in referrals for family violence and child protection and decreases in episodes of out of home care.

Trampolines not traps: enabling economic security for single mothers and their children

Bowman D and Wickramasinghe S
Fitzroy, Vic. : Research & Policy Centre, Brotherhood of St. Laurence, 2020.
This paper investigates what reforms are needed to address the high rates of poverty among one parent families and proposes a framework to guide policy and program efforts. The paper draws on 27 single mothers from Victoria, examining how the government-administered payments of Child Care Subsidy, income support and Child Support helped or hindered their financial wellbeing and the intersections between work, care and social security. The mothers' highlighted issues of the struggle to make ends meet, the clash working more hours and losing income support and concessions, and the stress of a conditional and confusing social security system. Reform is required in multiple interrelated domains: not only in family-friendly, inclusive employment and flexible, affordable quality child care, but also in taxation, social security and child support policy.

US couples' divisions of housework and childcare during COVID-19 pandemic

Carlson D, Petts R and Pepin J
College Park, Md. : SocArXiv, University of Maryland, 2020.
This paper looks at how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting how parents share domestic work in the United States. It presents findings from a survey from April 2020 of 1,060 parents on how divisions of housework and childcare may have changed since the beginning of the pandemic. Concerns have been raised that the pandemic has the potential to exacerbate gender inequalities by thrusting even more domestic responsibility on women, but others argue that it actually might reduce gender inequalities at home. Both fathers and mothers in the survey report reported doing more domestic work, but there was some disagreement about the extent of fathers' increased work. Many parents also report an increase in the time mothers' spent on domestic work, though a small fraction of both parents are spending less.

The impact of COVID-19 on gender equality

Alon T, Doepke M, Olmstead-Rumsey J and Tertilt M
Cambridge, Mass. : National Bureau of Economic Research, 2020.
This paper from the United States provides an initial discussion on how the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is going to affect women and men differently, and what the main long-run repercussions for gender equality may be. It combines insights from the existing literature with data on the distribution of women, men, and couples across occupations as well as time-use data on the division of labor in the household to shed more lights on the channels through which the COVID-19 pandemic affects gender inequality. The short-run challenges posed by the crisis will be severe, especially so for single mothers and other families with a lack of ability to combine work with caring for children at home. Compared to 'regular' recessions, which affect men's employment more severely than women's, the employment drop related to social distancing measures has a large impact on sectors with high female employment shares. In addition, closures of schools and daycare centers have massively increased child care needs, which has a particularly large impact on working mothers. However, there are opposing forces which may ultimately promote gender equality in the labor market. First, businesses are rapidly adopting flexible work arrangements, which are likely to persist, and second, there are also many fathers who now have to take primary responsibility for child care, which may erode social norms that currently lead to a lopsided distribution of the division of labor in house work and child care. The paper concludes by discussing policy options that could be used to deal with these specific challenges.

Methamphetamine and care: what we know to date

Oranga Tamariki Evidence Centre (New Zealand), New Zealand. Oranga Tamariki, Ministry for Children
Wellington, N.Z. : Oranga Tamariki Ministry for Children, 2020.
Methamphetamine drug use is frequently a factor in decisions to place a child into care in New Zealand. This paper draws together information held by the New Zealand child welfare agency relating to methamphetamine as a factor in the decision to take a child into care and ongoing impacts. Sources of information include case note reviews from a random sample of children who recently entered care, a review of cases where babies were taken into care, and a 2019 survey of caregivers. Drug and alcohol abuse are frequently factors in the decisions to place a child in care and methamphetamine is the dominant drug in these decisions - a review of cases where babies were taken into care when under 30 days old showed methamphetamine was a factor in half of those cases. Of the children in state care, three-quarters had a least one parent who had received substance abuse treatment in their lifetime.

Mothers with care history

Oranga Tamariki Evidence Centre (New Zealand), New Zealand. Oranga Tamariki, Ministry for Children
Wellington, N.Z. : Oranga Tamariki Ministry for Children, 2020
This paper provides some statistics into the likelihood of a mother with a care and protection history in New Zealand having a child placed in out-of-home care. The analysis showed that, as at June 2018, almost 90% of mothers with an out-of-home care experience did not have a baby placed into care in the first 2 years of the child's life.

Intimate partner violence and maternal mental health ten years after a first birth : an Australian prospective cohort study of first-time mothers.

Brown S, Mensah F, Giallo R, Woolhouse H, Hegarty K, Nicholson J and Gartland D
Journal of Affective Disorders v. 262 Feb 2020: 247-257
This article investigates rates of intimate partner violence among mothers and its association with mental health. It presents findings from a longitudinal study of 1,507 first-time mothers, who were surveyed at regular stages during the first 18 months after child birth and then 4 and 10 years later. The study found that a third of these women had experienced intimate partner violence at some stage between the birth of their first child and their child turning 10, and that these women experienced significantly higher rates of symptoms of depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress.

Adolescent antecedents of maternal and paternal perinatal depression : a 36-year prospective cohort

Thomson K, Romaniuk H, Greenwood C, Letcher P, Spry E, Macdonald J, McAnally H, Youssef G, McIntosh J, Hutchinson D, Patton G and Olsson C
Psychological Medicine 28 April 2020: Advance online publication
New parenthood is often a time of mental health problems, but how does this relate to earlier experiences of mental ill health? This article investigates parents' previous experience of mental ill health during their adolescence and young adulthood, using data from the Australian Temperament Project Generation 3 Study. It compares self-reports of depression and anxiety from ages 13-14 to 27-28 years, as well as depressive symptoms during pregnancy and 12 months after birth for mothers and at 12 months after birth for fathers. The study found that, for the majority of parents, perinatal depression is a continuation of earlier mental health problems with onsets well before pregnancy. Similarly high rates of mothers and fathers who reported perinatal depression also had a history of mental health problems in adolescence or young adulthood.

Barriers and incentives to labour force participation, Australia, 2018-19

Australian Bureau of Statistics
Canberra, ACT : Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2020.
This series provides information on the characteristics of the potential labour force in Australia, to help understand the factors that influence people's participation in the labour force and the hours they work and, hence, to identify ways to increase labour force participation and hours worked. Population estimates are made based on the 2018-19 Multi Purpose Household Survey. It estimates that of the 19 million people aged over 18 years there were 10.5 million people who did not work full-time: of those, 17% of people not participating in the labour force would like a job and 1 in 3 people working less than 16 hours would like to work more hours. The most important incentives to join the labour force or increase hours were, for women, access to childcare places, while for men it was financial assistance with childcare costs. Note, this edition moves to population benchmarks based on a 12 month average, rather than the single point in time used in previous editions.

Families in Australia Survey - Life During COVID-19. Report no. 4, Dads spend more quality time with kids

Budinski M, Baxter J, Carroll M and Hand K
Southbank, Vic. : Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2020.
The COVID-19 restrictions have led to more people spending time at home with their families. This paper looks at whether this has changed how much time dads are spending with the kids. It presents findings from the 'Life during COVID-19' survey, conducted in May-June 2020 with 7,306 adults, with 6,435 surveys completed in full. The survey found fathers were spending more time helping with learning and schoolwork, helping out with the personal care of children, and engaging in games and other fun activities. The paper also includes a chart comparing how fathers' and mothers' time use has changed since the restrictions were introduced.

The impact of paid parental leave on fertility intentions.

Bassford M and Fisher H
Economic Record 20 Jul 2020: Advance online publication
This paper investigates whether access to paid parental leave affects the fertility desires and intentions of working women in Australia. Data is taken from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey, for working women aged 21 to 45 years old. The government introduced paid parental leave scheme in 2011, but some private schemes also existed - allowing a comparison of other factors. The study found that the announcement of the new scheme had no impact on fertility intentions overall, but that, for women wanting to have at least one child, the total number of desired children increased by 16%. This effect is seen mostly among highly educated women.

Improving outcomes for young parents and their children: effective policy settings and practice approaches : literature review

Beauchamp T
Silverwater, NSW : Uniting (NSW/ACT), 2020.
This paper summarises the Australian and international literature on the issues facing teenage and young parents and how they can be best supported. It discusses the impact of stigma, young parents who have grown up in state care, the key elements of effective approaches, and supports in out of home care, education and training, and housing. Young parenthood is strongly associated with poor outcomes for both mothers and their children, but effective cross-sectoral support across health, education and social services can help prevent adverse outcomes.

Unintended consequences of welfare reform: evidence from birth outcomes of Aboriginal Australians

Doyle M, Schurer S and Silburn S
Bonn, Germany : IZA, 2020.
Income management was introduced in the Northern Territory in 2007 to improve the welfare of Aboriginal children. It was hoped that by restricting spending choices, households would spend more money on child-centred goods, including better food during pregnancy. This paper investigates whether this scheme has improved children's birth weight. It uses data from the Northern Territory Data Linkage Study to compare birth weights in the different regions where the scheme was rolled out progressively. The study finds no evidence of a benefit in this infant outcome - indeed, instead the findings suggest that the scheme reduced average birthweight by 95 grams and increased the probability of low birthweight by 3 percentage points. The paper discusses the mechanisms that may explain this finding as well as the history of the scheme.

The gendered division of paid and domestic work under lockdown

Andrew A
Bonn, Germany : IZA, 2020.
This paper adds to what is known about the gendered-effects of how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting how families juggle work and care. It presents findings from a survey of 3,591 parents in England, regarding how they, their partner and their children spent their time during the week. The study finds that hours of paid work have fallen dramatically during the lockdown period for both parents, but more so for mothers. The mothers spent substantially longer in childcare and housework than their partners and spent a larger fraction of their paid work hours having to juggle work and childcare. These gender differences held even if both parents were unemployed. These findings challenge theories that this COVID-19 pandemic might introduce new gender equalities.
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