Families, life events and family service delivery
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In considering life events, a focus on family functioning and family processes is more useful than a focus on family structure.
Well functioning family processes are likely to ameliorate the negative impacts of life events, while poor family processes are likely to exacerbate these impact.
Individual, community and societal supports promote good family processes when life events occur.
Social inclusion is a positive mediating and moderating influence on the outcome of life events.
Vulnerability and resilience are variable in nature; that is, both these states vary between persons and across the lifespan.
Cumulative effects on the health and wellbeing may result from the experience of multiple life events.
A shift in approach to service delivery is required when needs are assessed from the point of view of clients own descriptions of events.
A sense of loss is frequently associated with the experience of life events.
This report reviews the literature on life events experienced by families and ways in which they prepare for and/or deal with them.
It covers factors or triggers that lead families to navigate successfully or unsuccessfully through life events, and then addresses the ways in which such events affect families who have been functioning well and those who were already struggling prior to the event occurring.
Finally, the report provides an assessment of service delivery models that aim to support those negotiating a range of life events.
Authors and Acknowledgements
Lawrie Moloney is a Senior Research Fellow at the Australian Institute of Family Studies. Ruth Weston is Assistant Director (Research) at the Australian Institute of Family Studies. Lixia Qu is a Senior Research Fellow at the Australian Institute of Family Studies. Alan Hayes is the Director of the Australian Institute of Family Studies.
Many people have provided a great deal of assistance in the preparation of this report.
This work was commissioned and funded by the Australian Government Department of Human Services (DHS). We are very grateful to the enthusiastic support and sound advice we received throughout the entire process by the DHS team with whom we worked, especially Rosie Burn, Jodi Sargent and Robyn Longman. We are particularly grateful to Jessie Dunstan for her meticulous assistance in the final stages, which included checking references, and proofreading and amending drafts.
We are also indebted to staff members in the Institute's library, especially Carole Jean, Anita Emmanouilidis and Gillian Lord, who provided invaluable assistance in locating and deriving some of the key literature on which this report is based. Finally, we wish to thank Lan Wang, the Institute's Publishing Manager, for both editing and polishing this work.
Regardless of these invaluable contributions, we, the authors, remain responsible for any errors or omissions.
Moloney, L., Weston, R., Qu, L., & Hayes, A. (2012). Families, life events and family service delivery: A literature review (Research Report No. 20). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.
Examines the prevalence of different life events among Australian adults, and the links between life events and personal wellbeing
The report presents qualitative data from a series of ten focus groups which formed the Parent-Child Contact Study
Stresses the social context of child rearing and challenges some standard assumptions concerning family arrangements for the pre-school child
The case studies on which this book is based derive from a larger survey by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, carried out in 1982.