Issue 100

Family Matters No. 100, 2018

Journal issue feature image

Exploring issues affecting Australian families for 37 years

We celebrate 100 issues of Family Matters by looking back on some of the important research completed by the Institute over the years and looking forward - presenting some current research focused on issues that matter to families and communities today.


What promotes social and emotional wellbeing in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children?: Lessons in measurement from the Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children

Alexandra Marmor and David Harley

Though social and emotional wellbeing is an important outcome for policy makers in health and education, it is not adequately reflected by mainstream mental health assessment tools - in particular for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families. This article aims to identify the early childhood factors associated with later social and emotional wellbeing when the child is ready to start school, and to develop a new indicator that could capture a more holistic view of wellbeing. It draws on data from the Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children to look at selected individual and family factors during pregnancy and up to 2 years of age compared to children’s prosocial behaviour, mental health, connectedness, and other surrogate proxies for social and emotional wellbeing at school commencement. Though the authors were unable to create a single index of social and emotional wellbeing, the findings highlight the need to apply caution in applying Western biomedical health and wellbeing measures to Indigenous concepts and states.

New estimates of the costs of children

Peter Saunders and Megan Bedford

This article summarises new research on the costs of children conducted by the Social Policy Research Centre at the University of New South Wales. It discusses different approaches to estimating costs, summarises the Research Centre’s study on different household types, and presents current estimates for low paid and unemployed couples with and without children and for a 6-year-old girl and a 10-year-old boy. These new budgets provide an independent, evidence-based benchmark for assessing the adequacy of the minimum wage and the income support system in Australia.

Who supports equal rights for same-sex couples?: Evidence from Australia

Francisco Perales and Alice Campbell

Research from many nations overseas has shown an increasing public acceptance over the past two to three decades of sexual minorities and the rights of same-sex couples. This article investigates how public support has changed in Australia over the last 10 years, with a comparison of 2005 and 2015 data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey. It analyses individuals' perceptions of whether or not gay/lesbian couples should have the same rights as heterosexual couples, and the extent to which factors such as gender, age, education, religiosity, ethno-migrant background, or area of residence are predictive of these attitudes. The findings show a high degree of support for equal rights, up from 40% in 2005 to 66% in 2015. These changes cannot be attributed to compositional changes in population characteristics, and may be the product of cultural or institutional changes at the macro level.

The evolution of family research at AIFS: Talking with past Institute leaders

AIFS' Communications Team and Aileen Muldoon

To celebrate this 100th issue of Family Matters, former leaders of the Australian Institute of Family Studies reflect on some of the most ground breaking work the Institute has undertaken and reveal their ideas of what important issues are emerging for families now and in the future.

Introducing the National Workforce Centre for Child Mental Health: Improving the lives of infants, children and families

Bradley Morgan, Nicola Palfrey, Rhys Price-Robertson, Sophie Guy and Jessica Masters

Though many Australian infants and children experience mental health difficulties, these difficulties often go undiagnosed or the families lack access to appropriate services. This article describes the state of child mental health and the mental health sector in Australia then introduces a new initiative for improving workforce capacity: the National Workforce Centre for Child Mental Health. This Centre is a collaboration between Emerging Minds, the Australian Child & Adolescent Trauma, Loss & Grief Network at the Australian National University, the Australian Institute of Family Studies, the Parenting Research Centre, and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, and aims to build the identification, assessment, and support skills of professionals and organisations who work with children or parents.

A brief history of Family Matters

Hop Nguyen, Gillian Lord and Carole Jean

To celebrate this 100th issue of Family Matters, this article looks back at the journal's history and highlights some of the most notable stories.

A population approach to the prevention of child maltreatment: Rationale and implications for research, policy and practice

Matthew Sanders, Daryl Higgins and Ronald Prinz

This article sets out how the prevention of child maltreatment can be enhanced by a multi-level population-based approach in providing evidence- based parenting and family support. Such an approach works by reducing the family-related risk factors associated not only with abuse and neglect but also with a broader array of adverse childhood outcomes, through a blended prevention model that combines universal and targeted positive parenting interventions. However, though parenting programs can have a positive impact, participation needs to be normalised, destigmatised, and made widely accessible through concerted government commitment. Recommendations for policy, practice, and research are presented.