New report gives snapshot of Australian families

New report gives snapshot of Australian families

Media release — 19 May 2011

The report Families in Australia 2011: Sticking together in good and tough times has been released as part of National Families Week and draws on recent statistics from a range of sources to provide a picture of Australian families.

THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP

Minister for Human Services, Minister for Social Inclusion

THE HON JENNY MACKLIN MP

Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs


Social Inclusion Minister Tanya Plibersek today said Australian families are sticking together in good times and bad, and are finding support in times of need from their relatives, neighbours and communities.

The report Families in Australia 2011: Sticking together in good and tough times has been released as part of National Families Week and draws on recent statistics from a range of sources to provide a picture of Australian families.

"The report finds that Australian families have been able to adapt to change and bounce back from the stresses and strains of everyday life," said Ms Plibersek.

"Although family life is far more complex today than in the past, the majority of Australians are confident that if they need help they'd be able to seek it from family, friends, neighbours or work colleagues among others."

Minister for Families Jenny Macklin said the Australian Government knows how important families are.

"That's why we are providing more support for low and middle income families raising children, delivering on our election commitments to increase family assistance to support teenagers in school, make advance payments more flexible and encourage parents to get health checks for their children before they start school," she said.

Ms Macklin said the Government had recently introduced Australia's first Paid Parental Leave scheme, giving more parents the financial security to spend time at home with their new baby in the critical early months.

Paid Parental Leave helps give babies the best start in life. The scheme began in January and already around 50,000 new and expecting parents have applied for the payment."

Australian Institute of Family Studies director Professor Alan Hayes said the report looked at how families engage in paid work and found that in 2010 there were more couple parents with a full-time and part-time job (36 per cent) than with only one full-time job between them (30 per cent), while in around one quarter of cases, both parents worked full-time.

"It is largely through paid work that parents provide for the basic needs of their family and promote their own and their children's life chances. Work can bring with it many opportunities for personal growth, social support and a sense of wellbeing," he said.

"The challenge is always to get the work-family balance right and various policies have now been implemented to accommodate family commitments including the introduction of the paid parental leave scheme.

"Most Australians across all age groups report being highly satisfied with their lives, especially older people and 15 to 24 year olds."

Professor Hayes said the report also highlighted that young Australians, especially young women, are remaining in formal education for longer. In 1981 only 56 per cent of Australians between 15 and 19 years old were enrolled in education, but by 2010 that number had climbed to 78 per cent.

"Even more spectacular has been the increase in the educational participation of Australians in their early twenties, up from 16 per cent in 1981 to 40 per cent by 2010.

"More young people are combining study with paid work, with 33 per cent of teenagers and 26 per cent of people in their early twenties juggling these twin pursuits in 2010," he said.

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