Issue 29

Family Matters No. 29, 1991

Journal issue feature image

Family values: Changing or enduring?

This edition of Family Matter... 

Editor

Meredith Michie

Assistant Editor

Claire Miller

Editorial Assistants

Sandra Marsden and Allyson Trainor

Publications Committee

Helen Brownlee, Don Edgar, Rob Kidston, Peter McDonald, Meredith Michie, Claire Miller, Gay Ochiltree, Liz Sharman Allyson Trainor and Ilene Wolcott.

Publication details

Family Matters No. 29
Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, August 1991, 64 pp.
1030-2646 (print) 1832-8318 (online)

Copyright information

Abstracts

Director's report: Family values or valuing the family?

Don Edgar

The Director of the Australian Institute of Family Studies states that the Institute's view is that better public understanding of the many factors affecting marital and family stability will improve family wellbeing. 'We do not believe that all forms of family behaviour are acceptable. Far from it. Violence, abuse, inequality and subjugation mar the lives of many families. But we do believe that the family unit is central to society because it is constructed, interpreted and transmitted from one generation to another. The family is both individual and societal at one and the same time. It is not a passive vehicle for ideological or social forces, though it can work that way. Rather, the family is an active crucible in which both personality and society are forged, in which we hammer out in constructive real life action how our lives will be led, given the resources and constraints that limit our control, and given the wider sources of change that compel us to accept, adapt or resist.' The author concludes by reviewing some of the Institute's research from the perspectives of valuing the family, and family values.

 

Caring for family caregivers

Ilene Wolcott

Information is provided about the Caregivers National Group Leader Training Project, a project to support family caregivers by training people to set up and guide community support groups. Caregivers participate in discussion sessions designed to affirm their caregiving role through sharing their experiences and concerns. The project is funded by the Federal Department of Community Services and Health.

The most important person in the world: A look at contemporary family values

Audrey VandenHeuvel

The author asks the question whether, given changes in family trends and given the image of society often portrayed in the media, 'does the average Australian really think that the most important person in the world is him- or herself?' Using data from the National Social Science Survey, of which the Australian Institute of Family Studies was one sponsor, she looks at the values that individuals hold, and where they feel family fits into their lives. She focuses on four areas of family values: marriage, divorce, children, and women's employment. Also highlighted are differences by gender. Findings show that 'the family and its various components are strong and vital; they are highly valued by most Australians'.

Community child health care forum

Gay Ochiltree

Author reports on the second in a series of forums for representatives of community child health services around Australia. Presentations on successful child and maternal health projects in each State are briefly summarised.

 

Changing families, changing laws: Patterns of parenting after separation.

Margaret Harrison

Family law needs to reflect, and perhaps even pre-empt social change and community values however diverse, inconsistent and difficult to ascertain these may be. As knowledge about the effects of conflict and parental loss on children increase, so does the need to ensure that laws and services designed to maximise the welfare of children during parental upheaval are achieved. The author discusses recent moves to reform laws which affect both parents and children after separation. Her discussion is based on issues raised in the Family Law Council's discussion paper 'Patterns of parenting after separation'.

Once bitten twice shy?: Attitudes to repartnering after marriage breakdown

Ruth Weston

To what extent does marriage breakdown deter parents from wanting to live with a partner? After separation, are people preferring their independence or do they remain predisposed towards those values that led to their first marriage? The author examines the extent of repartnering and views about remarriage in the Institute's follow-up study of divorced people, the Parents and Children after Marriage Breakdown Survey.

Young adults and marriage: A look at the 1980s

Violet Kolar

Two sets of ABS data form the basis of a brief discussion about young adults and marriage: figures for 23-year-olds ever married, a term that includes all young adults in a marriage, divorced, or widowed; and first marriage rates for 20-24 year olds.

What marriage means to young adults in the 1990s

Christine Millward

This article reviews findings from the Australian Institute of Family Studies' 1990 Becoming Adult Study which examined, among other things, the attitudes to marriage and expectations of marriage in a group of 23-year-old Victorians. The 138 young adults were first interviewed in 1982-83 as part of the Institute's Children in Families Study. The author concludes that most of the young people interviewed had positive views about marriage and expected to marry.

Enduring values: What young adults rate as important

Robyn Hartley

Young adults are often criticised as being materialistic, selfish and hedonistic. However, the Institute's Becoming Adult Study found that contrary to public perception, and despite changing societal patterns, traditional values such as family, jobs and future security were of great importance to the young adults interviewed. Author discusses the findings.

Valuing children and parents: The key to an Australian family

Don Edgar

With 1994 now declared as the United Nations' Year of the Family, the Australian Institute of Family Studies plans to develop a series of family policy position papers that may serve as a basis for Australia-wide discussion on whether family life is valued sufficiently in public policies and programs. The Institute's Director suggests that two documents may serve as a starting point for those position papers. They are the final report of the American Assembly discussion held in New York in November 1989, titled 'The future of social welfare in America', and a policy paper put out by the British Institute for Public Policy Research, titled 'The family way: a new approach to policy-making', written by Anna Coote, Harriet Harman and Patricia Hewitt. He outlines the contents of the reports, and highlights some of the major recommendations.

Controlling the purse strings

Helen Glezer and Eva Mills

How are couples managing their finances and how are they coping with the economic situation in Australia? Authors report on some findings from the Institute of Family Studies' Family Formation Project.

Family values in the International Year of the Family 1994

Don Edgar

The Director of the Australian Institute of Family Studies states that the Institute's view is that better public understanding of the many factors affecting marital and family stability will improve family wellbeing. 'We do not believe that all forms of family behaviour are acceptable. Far from it. Violence, abuse, inequality and subjugation mar the lives of many families. But we do believe that the family unit is central to society because it is constructed, interpreted and transmitted from one generation to another. The family is both individual and societal at one and the same time. It is not a passive vehicle for ideological or social forces, though it can work that way. Rather, the family is an active crucible in which both personality and society are forged, in which we hammer out in constructive real life action how our lives will be led, given the resources and constraints that limit our control, and given the wider sources of change that compel us to accept, adapt or resist.' The author concludes by reviewing some of the Institute's research from the perspectives of valuing the family, and family values.

Institute undertakes three-year study into Australian living standards

Helen Brownlee, Peter McDonald and Claire Miller

Since the early 1980s the Australian government has aimed to improve the living standards of families and reduce poverty and inequality through income support measures, wages policy and taxation reforms. Recently, however, there have been discussions about the contribution of factors other than income to living standards and a renewed interest in families' 'non-incoming' needs, such as needs for employment, housing, education, health care and transport. This has focused attention on locational differences in living standards, since families may have similar incomes but there may be differences in their access to employment and services according to where they live. Arising out of this, the Australian Institute of Family Studies has been funded by the Federal Government to undertake a major study of the living standards of families in a number of different local areas of Australia, including some urban fringe, middle and inner city areas of Sydney and Melbourne, an outer area of Adelaide and three country areas. This paper discusses the theoretical framework for the study, which was developed from issues arising from a review of the international literature on living standards' research. It also describes the methodology of the study.

Self-determination: Helping Aboriginal families to realise the ideal

Barry Smith

Policies of 'benevolent protection' and assimilation have left deep and lasting scars on Aboriginal culture and tradition. Existing policies of self-determination and self-management are also fraught with difficulties as the ideals do not always translate well into practice. The North Australia Development Unit (NADU) is one way the Federal Government is trying to ensure that social security payments and programs are provided to Aboriginal families in remote areas in a way appropriate to their traditions and culture, and the changes occurring in the face of European influence. The author discusses the origins and work of NADU in the process of remote area Aboriginal family change.

Paying for the children: Evaluating Australia's Child Support Scheme

Margaret Harrison

The author presents some of the findings of the Institute's evaluation of Stage One of the Child Support Scheme, which has been written up in the report 'Paying for the children: parent and employer experience of Stage One of Australia's Child Support Scheme' (1991). She concentrates on the reports by parents registered with the Child Support Agency at the time of the evaluation.