Issue 47

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Family Matters No. 47, 1997

Journal issue feature image

New findings

Marriage, cohabitation and family life; experiences and expectations of older married couples

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Publication details

Family Matters No. 47
Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, June 1997, XX pp.
1030-2646 (print) 1832-8318 (online)

Copyright information


Human services: changing language - changing concepts?

Harry McGurk

What was previously known as child care is often now referred to by policy makers and service providers as the child care industry. The author questions whether this change reflects fluctuation in linguistic fashion or is it an example of the power of language to shape the way people think about social issues. Speaking about an activity as a service gives primacy to the needs and interests of the client group for whom the service has been developed and to the role of the service in meeting those needs and serving those interests. Labelling the same activities as an industry seems to shift the focus away from the needs and interests of clients, towards the economic aims of the activities and on the principles and processes which are elaborated in the service of these aims. The purpose of this article is to raise questions about the degree to which the best interests of the client group may be compromised by the adoption of an industrial or commercial orientation to service provision.

Social polarisation in a suburban community? : An Australian Newtown revisited

Ian Winter and Lois Bryson

Newtown (a pseudonym) is a housing development built by the Victorian Housing Commission during the 1950s and 1960s as part of its public housing. In this fourth and final article from the Newtown Revisited Project, the authors consider some of the study's key findings in light of contemporary analyses that point to processes of polarisation in Australian society. They look at evidence of polarisation in terms of occupational polarisation, income polarisation and the impact of polarisation on family life.

News from the Family Court - Family Law reforms

Regina Graycar and Margaret Harrison

The Family Law Reform Act 1995 emphasises the ongoing responsibilities of parents for their children and moves away from the language of 'rights'. The language of the various parenting provisions has changed from that of custody, guardianship and access to residence and contact. These changes are more than a change in terminology. This article outlines research that is to be undertaken into the effects of these changes to the children's provisions of the Family Law Act.



The next generation: Aspirations of migrant adolescents and their parents

Over the last 20 years, people from non English speaking countries have represented an increasing proportion of Australia's migrant intake. These people are particularly disadvantaged in terms of access to information and participation in the broader community. The author reports on what happens to the children of this migrant population. In her analysis, which focused on parents who participated in the Australian Living Standards Study (ALSS), she found that English language skills represent an important factor that needs to be taken into account, particularly in relation to educational aspirations and achievement.

News from the Family Court - Relocation dispute decided

Margaret Harrison

In this article the author comments on the recent judgement by the Full Court of the Family Court (B and B: Family Law Reform Act) which considered a dispute that centred around the intention of a mother with custody of the children under the 'old' law to move from northern Queensland to central Victoria, with the children of her former marriage, in order to re marry. The essence of the judgement is that the best interests of the children remain the paramount consideration and define the central issue. The judgement provides a useful analysis of the Reform Act provisions and objectives, an overview of relocation decisions in Australia and elsewhere, and an illustration of the delicate balancing which accompanies many difficult disputes.

Home-based work: Snapshots of recent labour market trends

Christine Kilmartin

Changes in labour demand and in job security have produced some specific responses on the part of workers and employers. But the magnitude and direction of these changes is not always clearly understood. In this article the author looks at some recent trends in home based employment, in the over - employed and the under - employed, and in the regional distribution of unemployment. (Journal abstract)

News from the Family Court - New family business proposed for courts

Danny Sandor

The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission and the Australian Law Reform Commission are jointly conducting an inquiry into children and the legal process. Their recent draft recommendations paper 'A matter of priority: children and the legal process' discusses a wide range of subjects and systems concerning children, including education, consumer affairs, juvenile justice and family law proceedings. In relation to the inquiry, this article provides a brief discussion of proposals which would bring more care and protection matters for decision by the Family Court and more Family Law Act matters into state and territory children's courts.


Women's satisfaction with the domestic division of labour

Janeen Baxter and Mark Western

This paper examines men's and women's levels of satisfaction with the domestic division of labour. In most households, women continue to undertake the bulk of child care and housework responsibilities, and spend significantly greater amounts of time on domestic labour than men. Men report high levels of satisfaction with these arrangements, but surprisingly, approximately 40 per cent of women also report a high level of satisfaction with these arrangements. This paper attempts to explain this apparent paradox. The authors explore the way in which levels of satisfaction vary in relation to a number of factors such as labour force attachment of husbands and wives, life cycle stage, and attitudes to gender roles and social class. Their findings raise implications for the meaning of equity and fairness within the household. The main goal for women may not be an equal division of household tasks, but rather a contribution to housework, because the perceived alternative is not an equal division of labour but a situation in which men do even less.

Cohabitation and marriage relationships in the 1990s

Helen Glezer

De facto relationships are on the increase in Australia, yet little is known about the quality or history of these relationships compared with formal marriages. Through new data from the Institute's 1996 Australian Family Life Course Study, the author explores these relationships, focusing on aspects of relationship quality, gender roles and parenting, intergenerational links and social involvement in the broader community. (Journal abstract)

Marriage in the Third Age: Experiences and expectations of couples aged 50 to 70 years

Ilene Wolcott

With the baby boomer population turning 50, and the population in general ageing, there is increasing interest in later life relationships. This article, based on data from the Australian Institute of Family Studies 1996 Later Life Families Study, explores aspects of marriage of people aged 50 - 70 years and examines dimensions of marital and life satisfaction, family relationships and responsibilities, and attitudes towards growing older. Issues discussed include: marital transitions in later life; marital satisfaction; happy and unhappy marital relationships; commitment; areas of disagreement and sources of pleasure; managing conflict; children; parents; friends and community; sharing roles; health status; finance; dimensions of marital satisfaction and dissatisfaction; and implications for services to later life couples.



Parenting Plans - Should they be set in concrete?

Bill Hughes

Following separation and the consequent break up of the family unit, there remain many circumstances in which the parents retain a cooperative relationship which enables both to play a continuing role in the care of the children of their marriage. The author presents the Family Law Council's argument that parenting plans were particularly aimed at helping such couples in making their own flexible arrangements and offering them an alternative to court action. They were not envisaged as formal agreements capable of registration in the Family Court. (Journal abstract)

Proposal for a National Youth Civic Service Scheme

Robyn Hartley

In this article the author presents the background to a report (Opting in to Active Citizenship, 1997) that examines whether a scheme of youth community service could make a positive contribution to some of the problems faced by young people today. She discusses some of its arguments and main findings and notes that although a youth community service scheme is not a panacea for all the complex social and cultural shifts currently affecting young people, a well organised voluntary and flexible youth civic community service scheme, which included a significant role for young people in its planning and implementation, could assist in signalling to young people that they have an important contribution to make. The report states that the idea of a national scheme of voluntary youth civic service warrants serious exploration at all levels of the Australian community.