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

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 exprience 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 impotant 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.

Evaluation of the Cradle to Kinder programme for Aboriginal mothers and their children : perspectives from the women and their workers.

O'Donnell R, Bamblett M, Johnson G, Hunter S, Stringer K, Croisdale S, Pizzirani B, Ayton D, Savaglio M and Skouteris H
Children Australia 7 Aug 2020: Advance online publication

How we worked

Warren D, Qu L and Baxter J
Southbank, Vic. : Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2020.
This paper highlights trends in the employment arrangements of families over the last forty years, as part of a series celebrating the anniversary of the Australian Institute of Families Studies. The fact sheet looks at trends in male and female labour force participation, fathers' and mothers' employment, community attitudes towards mothers', use of flexible working arrangements, employment, underemployment, working from home, and young people in work or study. The statistics show how family employment patterns have shifted over recent decades away from that of a breadwinning father and stay-at-home mother. However, though women's labour force participation rates have increased, it is still more common for mothers than fathers to use flexible work arrangements to balance work and family responsibilities.

Cheaper childcare: a practical plan to boost female workforce participation

Wood D, Griffiths K and Emslie O
Carlton, Vic. : Grattan Institute, 2020.
This report argues that governments can help facilitate greater female workforce participation by reducing the barriers to paid work, improving childcare availability and quality, and enabling shared caring. Increasing female workforce participation is one of the biggest economic opportunities for governments, even more so for the post-COVID-19 short-term economic recovery and longer-term rebuild. Though Australia's female workforce participation rate is above the OECD average, Australian women are much more likely to work part-time, and many women report they would prefer to work more and many men feel trapped in the breadwinner role. Chapters include: The economic and social opportunities from higher female workforce participation; Financial barriers discourage women from working more; A lack of suitable childcare can also be a barrier; Unpaid work still falls largely on women; Options to make childcare more affordable; Other policies to support workforce participation; Estimating workforce disincentive rates; Employer policies matter; Costs and benefits of childcare reform options; and Impact of childcare reform options.

Physical and emotional intimate partner violence and women's health in the first year after childbirth : an Australian pregnancy cohort study.

FitzPatrick K, Brown S, Hegarty K, Mensah F and Gartland D
Journal of Interpersonal Violence 1 Jul 2020: Advance online publication
This article looks into impact of different types of intimate partner violence on the health and wellbeing of new, first-time mothers. Data is taken from a study of 1,507 first-time mothers in Melbourne, Victoria. The article examines the association of physical, emotional, physical, and emotional abuse on the women's mental, physical, and sexual health in the first year after childbirth. Emotional abuse was the most commonly reported type of intimate partner violence, reported by 9.5% of the participants. Women reporting emotional abuse alone or in conjunction with physical violence were at increased risk of poor health, s well as poor body image, whereas those reporting both physical and emotional abuse were at higher risk of mental health issues. The findings highlight the diversity of women's experiences of IPV intimate partner violence, as well as its impact on the health of new mothers.

Use of fertility services in Australian lesbian, bisexual and queer women's pathways to parenthood.

Power J, Dempsey D, Kelly F and Lau M
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 18 May 2020: Advance online publication
This article explores lesbian, bisexual and queer women's use of fertility clinics. It presents findings from a broader survey from 2016 on reproductive choices, pathways to parenthood, conception method and use of clinical fertility services. These findings reveal that fertility clinics are being commonly used to access donor sperm - just over half of the children of the respondents' had been conceived using clinical fertility services. Most choose this route in order to access to donor sperm: only 41% reported fertility problems.

Participating in growth: free childcare and increased participation

Denniss R
Canberra, ACT : The Australia Institute, 2020.
This paper argues that the provision of free childcare provides both short and long term economic benefits, and calls for the Australian Government to extend the free child care policy it introduced to help address the COVID-19 pandemic. Free child care provides short-term stimulus by increasing the disposable income of young families and is also a long-term driver of economic growth by freeing up parents to work. This paper compares Australia's workforce participation rates to those of Nordic countries, which have some of the highest participation rates in the world, and et estimates how much additional GDP would be generated if Australia's participation rates were similarly high. The paper shows that there is significant potential to boost Australia's long run growth rates by emulating key design elements of Nordic childcare policy.

Alcohol consumption during the COVID-19 period - May 2020

Biddle N, Edwards B, Gray M and Sollis K
Canberra, ACT : ANU Centre for Social Research & Methods, 2020.
This paper investigates whether there have been changes in alcohol consumption in Australia since the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated restrictions commenced. It draws on a survey of 3,219 adults from May 2020 from across Australia, who were asked about their drinking in the last 12 months and since the start of the pandemic. Data from the 2017/18 National Health Survey is used as a population benchmark. The findings indicate that the frequency of alcohol consumption during COVID-19 is slightly higher for men and substantially higher for women than it was 2-3 years ago. Having a child caring role was a strong predictor of an increase in alcohol consumption for women, whereas job loss or a decline in working hours was a strong predictor for men. Note, the vast majority of Australians have said that their alcohol consumption has either stayed the same or declined, and, for those whose alcohol consumption has increased, the level of increase has been moderate. However, of concern, there have been increases among people who were already relatively frequent consumers of alcohol and people who are experiencing psychological distress.

Maternal deaths in Australia 2015-2017

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
Canberra : Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2020.
This report provides a summary of statistics on maternal mortality in Australia, to better inform safety and quality of maternity care. Although maternal deaths are rare in Australia, they are catastrophic events when they do occur and require monitoring and investigation. The report includes information about the women, pregnancy, and cause of death, as well as good practice guidance points for clinicians. In the 2015-2017 period, the maternal mortality rate in Australia was 6.4 deaths per 100,000 women giving birth, which is among the lowest rates in the world. The most common causes of maternal death were suicide and cardiovascular disease, with Indigenous women more than 3 times at risk than non-Indigenous women.

The self-as-mother in the preschool years : an interpretive phenomenological analysis.

Hansen L
Children Australia v. 45 no. 1 Mar 2020: 48-53
Most research into maternal self-concept focuses on the transition to motherhood - this article adds to the evidence bases with a study on mothers of preschool-aged children. Drawing on interviews with 8 mothers in Melbourne, Victoria, it explores how mothers attain, maintain and support their self-definition during the early years of mothering, including how they made sense of their new role and incorporated their new role into their existing self. The findings highlight several common themes: becoming a mother as a journey of self-discovery, the biological imperatives of becoming a mother, remothering, and the continued challenges of the emerging mother role.

Australia's mothers and babies 2018 - in brief

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
Canberra : Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2020.
This report presents a selection of key statistics on births in Australia in 2018, drawn from the National Perinatal Data Collection. Information and infographics are presented for trends since 2006, pregnancy, child birth, and maternal and infant health, including antenatal care, smoking during pregnancy, onset of labour, method of birth, multiple pregnancies, gestational age, birthweight, presentation, Apgar scores, resuscitation, hospital births and length of stay, perinatal deaths, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and their babies. This publication is designed to accompany a perinatal dynamic data display available online. In 2018, around 298,600 women gave birth to more than 303,000 babies. Nearly three-quarters of these mothers received antenatal care in the first trimester, up from 63% in 2010. Note, this report is designed to accompany complementary online data visualisations.

A demographic profile of mothers and their children who are victims of family and domestic violence : using linked police and hospital admissions data.

Orr C, Fisher C, Glauert R, Preen D and O'Donnell M
Journal of Interpersonal Violence 5 May 2020: Advance online publication
This article adds to what is known about the characteristics of victims of family violence, to better inform identification efforts. It compares linked health and police data from Western Australia for mothers with children born 1987-2010, for cases where either the mother hospitalised or the male perpetrator was charged. The findings highlight that the characteristics of mothers differed between these two datasets: in the police data, mothers were more likely to be under 25 years of age and have children present, whereas mothers in the health data were more likely to be Aboriginal - though Indigenous women were over-represented in both sets. The findings underscore the need for multiple sources of data when investigating family and domestic violence.

Not pregnant enough?: pregnancy and homelessness

Murray S, Theobald J, Haylett F and Watson J
Melbourne, Vic. : Social and Global Studies Centre, RMIT University, 2020.
This study follows on from a 2018 project with practitioners into service responses for pregnant homeless women in Victoria. This new study looks into the views of women who have had recent experiences of pregnancy and homelessness. Interviews were conducted with 14 women, many of whom had also experienced mental ill-health, problematic alcohol or drug use, and gendered violence. Participants were asked about their children, finding out about the pregnancy, homelessness during pregnancy, experience of hazardous accommodation, seeking long-term accommodation, complex and co-occurring issues, survival sex, impact on health, accessing abortion and contraception, accessing support during pregnancy, child protection, preparing for motherhood, and mothering supports. The findings highlight the difficulty of preparing for motherhood without stable shelter, and gaps in the housing and homelessness service systems. Indeed - many of the women were not 'pregnant enough' to access long-term safe and secure housing, with this only available very late in their pregnancy or until after the birth of their baby. The report concludes with recommendations for research, crisis services, and housing support.

Caring Dads program: helping fathers value their children - three site independent evaluation 2017-2020 - final report

Diemer K
Parkville, Vic. : University of Melbourne,2020
'Caring Dads' is a groupwork program for fathers who have used domestic and family violence. It features group parenting sessions with fathers, systematic outreach with mothers to ensure their safety and freedom from coercion, and ongoing case management of fathers by existing service providers. The program was developed in Canada and has now been implemented in several countries. This report describes a three-year trial of the program in Victoria in three sites: metropolitan North East Melbourne (a partnership between Kids First and UnitingCare ReGen), metropolitan Western Melbourne (a partnership between Anglicare Victoria and IPC Health), and rural Gippsland (by Anglicare Victoria). The evaluation found promising evidence that the fathers' behaviour change is commencing and moving in a positive direction, in particular their ability to reflect on abusive and harmful fathering. Hostility towards the mothers of their children was more difficult to change. Though both fathers and mothers reported improved fathering practices at the completion of the program, only some men showed sustained improvement.

Child poverty, child maintenance payments and interactions with social assistance benefits among lone parent families : a comparative analysis.

Hakovirta M, Skinner C, Hiilamo H and Jokela M
Journal of Social Policy v. 49 no. 1 jan 2020: 19-39
Many countries combine private child maintenance and public social security policy to reduce poverty in lone parent families. However, many of these families are still in poverty - due in part to governments not passing on all of the child maintenance payment as an offset to the social support payment. These include 'pass through' and 'child maintenance disregard' mechanisms. This article investigates whether lone parents on social assistance benefits are any better off after child maintenance is paid, and whether national policies affect these outcomes. It compares data from the 2013 Luxembourg Income Study (LIS) for Australia, Finland, Germany and the United Kingdom - four countries with different child maintenance systems. The findings show that lone parents who do receive child maintenance have a lower child poverty rate compared to those who do not receive any, but that these outcomes vary for the poorest children depending on what mechanisms are in play. The findings raise questions about the legitimacy of child maintenance policies that proclaim to tackle child poverty when hidden interaction mechanisms continue to operate as cost recovery tools for the state.

Identifying and responding to domestic violence in antenatal care: key findings and future directions.

Australia's National Research Organisation for Women's Safety Limited
Sydney : ANROWS, 2020.
This paper highlights the key findings and policy implications from a recent study into how to improve health system responses to domestic violence in the antenatal period. A significant number of women experience domestic violence during pregnancy but this period also presents an opportunity for early intervention due to the frequent ongoing contact with health services. The study investigated how to integrate and sustain screening, risk assessment and first-line responses effectively into the complex health system of antenatal care, the system barriers and facilitators involved, and also for the specific challenges for health systems in regional and rural settings with low resources. Based on the findings, the study proposed a new model for implementing sustainable screening and responses - the REAL Transformation Model. The practitioner guidelines for the model are included as an appendix.

Sustainability of identification and response to domestic violence in antenatal care - the SUSTAIN Study

Hegarty K, Spangaro J, Koziol-McLain J, Walsh J, Lee A, Kyei-Onanjiri M, Matthews R, Valpied J, Chapman J, Hooker L, McLindon E, Novy K and Spurway K
Sydney : ANROWS, 2020.
This study investigated how to improve health system responses to domestic violence in the antenatal period. A significant number of women experience domestic violence during pregnancy but this period also presents an opportunity for early intervention due to the frequent ongoing contact with health services. The study investigated how to integrate and sustain screening, risk assessment and first-line responses effectively into the complex health system of antenatal care, the system barriers and facilitators involved, and also for the specific challenges for health systems in regional and rural settings with low resources. Case studies were conducted across six hospital antenatal clinics in Victoria and New South Wales, surveys were undertaken with 1,224 clients of the clinics, and focus groups and interviews were held with 91 antenatal staff members. Based on the findings, the study proposes a new model for implementing sustainable screening and responses - the REAL Transformation Model. Recommendations for practitioners and policy makers are also included.

Understanding the experiences and needs of migrant women affected by female genital mutilation using maternity services in Australia.

Turkmani S, Homer C and Dawson A
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health v. 17 no. 5 2020: Article 1491
A growing number of maternity care providers and health systems are caring for pregnant women affected by female genital mutilation. This article provides insights for service delivery and presents a conceptual model to guide practice, to help inform culturally safe and woman-centred maternity care for these women. It draws on interviews and focus groups with 23 migrants affected by female genital mutilation, now living in Western Sydney, New South Wales. Their views highlight the importance of partnering and involving women in the design and delivery of maternity care.

Transformative event, disruption or cumulative disadvantage?: labor market and education trajectories of young mothers in Australia

Kalucza S, Lam J and Baxter J
Indooroopilly, Qld. : Life Course Centre, Institute for Social Science Research, University of Queensland, 2020.
Young motherhood has been viewed as a risky event, adding complexity and hardship to the life of both the young woman and her child, but it has also been seen as a transformative experience, motivating the young mother to a fresh start. Perhaps outcomes vary for different groups of women depending on the path they were already on before becoming a parent? This paper investigates this further using data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey. It examines the labour market and educational pathways of young women, from before and after the birth of a child. It looks into the stability and precariousness of these pathways on a week by week basis and compares the pathways with those of young women who did not experience young motherhood. The findings suggest that young motherhood has a negative impact for young women who were initially on a path of some stability, but has little impact - neither for better or worse - on women who were already on precarious paths. The findings raise the question of how to harness the transformative power of young motherhood reported by disadvantaged young mothers in qualitative studies, which was not seen in this quantitative study.
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