Issue 34

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Family Matters No. 34, 1993

Journal issue feature image

Family Research in Australia

This issue of Family Matters includes papers and discussion from the Fourth Australian Family Research Conference (AFRC4).  A summary of the broad family issues raised at the conference is included, as are several of the papers.

Articles in this issue of Family Matters are only available as PDF documents and do not meet the latest web accessibility standards. If you are unable to access any of the articles in this issue of Family Matters please contact us and we will endeavour to provide the article/s you need in a format that you can use.

Editor

Meredith Michie

Editorial Assistant

Sandra Marsden

Publications Committee

Helen Brownlee, Don Edgar, Peter McDonald, Meredith Michie, Gay Ochiltree, Liz Sharman and Ilene Wolcott.

Publication details

Family Matters No. 34
Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, May 1993, 64 pp.
1030-2646 (print) 1832-8318 (online)

Copyright information

Abstracts

Single women and their families: The case of Germany

Wolfgang Voegeli

This is an edited version of a paper presented at the fourth Australian Family Research Conference in February 1993. It describes how, despite the increasing numbers of single-mother families in present-day society, existing policies lag behind. The author discusses discriminatory tax and social policies which still exist in Germany, and argues the case for introducing policies that recognise the diversity of family forms.

Beyond custody and access: Post-separation parenting in the nineties

Lawrie Moloney

How should parenting after separation be viewed in the future? Is the standard custody and access framework still an adequate model within which to construe post-separation parenting? In this edited version of a paper presented at the fourth Australian Family Research Conference in February 1993, the author suggests that the roots of the language of custody and access lie in outdated assumptions of children as economic assets or property. He argues that a language springing from such historical roots is out of step with the current legal and social position regarding the rights of children, and that the juxtaposition of custody and access symbolically confers ownership on one parent and relegates the other to the sidelines.

Pathways to family formation: To tie or not to tie the knot?

Helen Glezer

In this edited version of a paper presented at the fourth Australian Family Research Conference in February 1993, the author reports some of the findings of the Institute's longitudinal Australian Family Formation Study which looked at how, why and when Australians form or do not form families. Trends commented on include patterns of leaving home, the timing of marriage, factors influencing cohabitation prior to marriage, characteristics of those who have cohabited, rejection of marriage and the singles lifestyle. Findings confirm that changing family formation trends such as premarital cohabitation and delayed marriage are more prevalent in those under 35 years than those over 35 years. These differences are likely to reflect the changes over time in family values and gender roles and the greater tolerance of diversity in patterns of family formation.

Characteristics of carers in Victoria

Hilary Schofield and Helen Hermann

The increasing rates of disability and a major shift from custodial to community care for people with severe and chronic disabilities has led to an increasing reliance on families and other unpaid caregivers in the home. How are these carers coping, and what is the impact of caregiving on the health and wellbeing of family carers over time? In this edited version of a paper presented at the fourth Australian Family Research Conference in February 1993, the authors report on the first stage of a major research and intervention program focusing on the wellbeing of families caring for people with a range of severe and long-term illnesses and disabilities. Using a cross-diagnostic approach, the program is using a stress and coping theoretical framework to explore the impact of caregiving on carers over time, the variety of responses to this role and use of services.

The place of family in social policy


What should be the position of families and households in social and economic policy? In this edited version of her paper presented at the fourth Australian Family Research Conference in February 1993, the author argues that there are many aspects of interpersonal relationships in good families that we need to incorporate in the more public parts of our lives. On the other hand, she says, policy makers often have unrealistic expectations of the capacity of these small and fragile units. She examines the care-work nexus, and suggests a number of issues which could and should inform public policy debate.

Violence in families: The effect on children

Anne Blanchard

This is an edited version of a paper presented at the fourth Australian Family Research Conference in February 1993. The author reports on a recent qualitative study that provides first-hand Australian data on children's perceptions of domestic violence and assesses the availability of support services. The study's principal aims were 1) to document the direct experience of children who witness domestic violence in the home; 2) seek the opinions of service providers on the effects of domestic violence they observed in children; 3) to survey the facilities available in Western Australia to assist child victims of family conflict; and 4) make recommendations to fill the anticipated gaps in services.

Leisure and recreation: Experiences and limitations

Violet Kolar

How do people spend their leisure time? Are they satisfied with their recreational activities? If not, what would they like to be doing? In this edited version of a paper presented at the fourth Australian Family Research Conference in February 1993, the author reports on the leisure and recreational behaviour of 1269 people who were respondents in the Institute's Australian Living Standards Study.

Under the same roof: Young adult unmarried sexual relationships in parents' homes

Robyn Hartley

An increasing number of families are facing the issue of young adults sleeping with their sexual partners in the parental home. In this edited version of a paper presented at the fourth Australian Family Research Conference in February 1993, the author reports on why this is happening and how families are responding. Data are drawn from the Institute's Becoming Adult Study of 23-year olds, which involved a total of 138 respondents.

Social policy in Australia: The family dimension

Peter McDonald

Social policy deals with the care and development of individuals in the society according to a set of standards which the society sets out to achieve. Sometimes these standards are described in the form of rights; however, this article argues, more often they are the result of the historical development of the policies of competing political interests. The author explores the future of the family as an organising principle in social policy; argues that we need to give up on family policies which do not recognise that the family extends beyond the front door; discusses the need for a sensible balance of public and private support; reports that findings from the Institute's Australian Living Standards Study show that Australia does not do too badly in this regard at present, particularly with broad services such as health and education, and also income support; concludes that nevertheless, we need to focus much more on areas in which we do not do well, and suggests some principles underpinning social policy with a family focus.

Missing work to care for sick children

Audrey VandenHeuvel

Findings of the Dependent Care Study are reported in the recently published Institute monograph 'When roles overlap: workers with family responsibilities'. This article summarises that report's main findings regarding time off work for sick children, and extends the research in this area by examining the characteristics of those parents who were most likely to take time off to care for sick children. It identifies and discusses three major avenues for changes which would enable employed parents to cope more easily when their children get sick, and concludes that the issue of the conflict between work and caring for sick children is not one that can easily be resolved. There are complexities, including the fact that not only do satisfactory solutions vary between individuals, workplaces, and communities, but also over time for parents as their family situations change. But regardless of complexity, there is growing recognition in Australia that solutions must be found. Innovative practices and changes to existing leave policies are urgently needed.