Issue 49

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Family Matters No. 49, 1998

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Social environments and the wellbeing of young people

Social environments and the wellbeing of young people; Adolescents' perceptions of self, work and future

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Publication details

Family Matters No. 49
Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, April 1998, XX pp.
1030-2646 (print) 1832-8318 (online)

Copyright information


Home Alone Before or After School

David de Vaus and Christine Millward

Self care before or after school is believed to be becoming more widespread due to increases in the number of working mothers and one parent families. Based on data from the Australian Institute of Family Studies' Australian Living Standard's Study, this article looks at which families use self or sibling care for primary school age children and examines whether or not poverty, class or minority group status predicts the use of self care when compared with other circumstances. Contrary to prevailing stereotypes, the use of self care was not linked to minority groups, poverty or sole parent households.

Adolescents' Perceptions of Parental Favouritism: Links with family functioning

Grania Sheehan and Patricia Noller

This article examines the findings from a study set up to investigate the relation between adolescents' experience of parental favouritism and family functioning. The findings highlight the role of parental favouritism as a powerful form of injustice within the family system, which for the disfavoured child causes varying levels of distress and ill feeling, and which in turn appears to effect other relationships and interpersonal dynamics throughout the family system.

Young People's Access to Home Ownership: Chasing the Great Australian Dream

Wendy Stone

In this article the author reports on recent findings from the Australian Family Life Course Study undertaken by the Australian Institute of Family Studies. She examines whether today's young famlies are able to enjoy the benefits of home ownership that previous generations have taken for granted, given the broad economic, political and demographic changes that have occurred in recent years. This article aims to add to the understanding of the 'settling down' process of young Australians, and more specifically, to examine the adequacy of the housing system in meeting the needs of young adults and their families as they undertake this process.

Age Differences of Brides and Grooms in Australia: Latest trends

Lixia Qu

Like other aspects of social behaviour, attitudes about the appropriate relative age differences between spouses is affected by community assumptions about age, but little attention has been given to this recognised social behaviour compared with other aspects of marriage and family. The analysis in this article looks at changes in age difference over time between brides and grooms in Australia.

How Young People Think About Self, Work and Futures

Julie McLeod and Lyn Yates

This article reports on the 12 to 18 Educational Research Project, a longitudinal study that is following a number of young people at four different schools through each year of their secondary schooling. The aim of the study is to chart the thinking of these young people, and their pathways, as they go through school, and then enter life beyond this. In this article, the authors discuss some findings from this work in progress, looking particularly at how young people in the early and middle years of secondary school are thinking about self, work and the future. The authors also consider in what ways gender is an issue in their approach.

The Post-1970 Generation: Issues for researching young people in Australia today

Johanna Wyn

This article looks at the distinctive experiences of young people of the 'post-1970 generation' after they leave secondary school. This is the first generation of whom the majority are expected to participate in post compulsory education. The youth labour market has disappeared, to be replaced by part time and casual work mainly undertaken by students. The term 'post-1970 generation' focuses on the circumstances in which young people are living and the conditions they face, rather than on their assumed characteristics. The author examines the need for those involved in policy formulation to rethink the meaning of youth and to attempt to understand the complexities of young people's lives.

Social Environments and the Emotional Wellbeing of Young People

Sarah Glover, Jane Burns, Helen Butler and George Patton

There are growing concerns about current rates of adolescent depression and youth suicide. This article discusses the work of the Centre for Adolescent Health's Gatehouse Project which highlights the significance of social environments on young people's mental health, and outlines school based approaches to the promotion of emotional well being. The framework proposed has relevance to other settings and challenges the reader to consider how to extend preventive action across the community.

Geographies of exclusion: Young people's perceptions and use of public space

Karen Malone and Lindsay Hasluck

At a time when many societies perceive young people to be intruders and a threat in public spaces, there is a need to understand the impact of exclusionary practices on young people's experiences of urban life. This article draws on data from a three year research study currently being conducted in Australia on young people's experiences of growing up in urban environments, the Growing Up in Cities project. It looks at factors young people themselves identify as affecting their use of public space in their local neighbourhood. The article focuses on four issues that young people in the study have indicated marginalise them, and at times, exclude them from public spaces: physical form of the neighbourhood; commercialisation of youth spaces; restricted mobility; and personal safety, dangers and fears.

About the Growing Up In Cities project

Karen Malone

The Growing Up in Cities project is an eight country international participatory research project sponsored by the UNESCO - MOST (Management of Social Transformation) program. This article outlines the project and describes its goal, which is to document some of the human costs and benefits of economic development. It is done by showing how young people's perceptions and actual use of the micro environment resulting from economic development affects their lives and personal development.

History, Myth Making and Young People in a Time of Change

Judith Bessant and Rob Watts

In this article the authors outline the kinds of propositions from both progressive and pessimistic commentators that young people are either threats to civilisation or victims of change. They question the validity of representing young people as victims and/or agents of social disorder. Contemporary representations of youthful disorder, lawlessness and misrule as novel responses to change, newness and discontinuity, are better understood as part of a tradition of myth making that is central to what some writers refer to as the history of modernity. In the final part of the article, the authors cast doubt about the empirical basis of contemporary claims made about the societal causation of youth crime and youth suicide.

Australian Family Research and Policy News

Ian Winter

This column is designed to keep readers informed of contemporary developments that matter to families. It is compiled from reports provided by a panel of the following corresponding consultants with expertise in the many dimensions of family research and policy making: Pat Noller; Cynthia a'Beckett; Lee Wightman; Steven Zubrick; Judy Cashmore; Alison Garton; Jon Altman; and Sotirios Sarantakos. The column provides a snapshot of family research and policy issues from a range of research perspectives and geographic locations around Australia, and in particular covers in this issue, youth suicide prevention, sibling relationships and parental divorce, adolescent health, child protection, indigenous families and domestic violence.

News from the Family Court: What's new in the Family Court

Margaret Harrison

The particular focus of this family law overview, a regular feature of Family Matters, is a proposal by the Law Council of Australia that model de facto relationships legislation be enacted by each State and Territory as soon as practicable. The background to the proposal is explained; current legislative approaches are outlined; the two disparate approaches to de facto relationships legislation identified by the Council are noted; and brief details of the Council's proposal are provided. Also discussed are the availability of indigenous court interpreters, and the recent endorsement by the Family Court of 'Guidelines for court counsellors regarding the involvement of children in conciliation counselling', and the significance of these guidelines.

News from the Family Court: A wider view of 'family' contributions under de facto relationships legislation

Danny Sandor

A general feature of legislation regarding de facto relationships is that a court may adjust the entitlement of the partners to the property of either or both of them if they have lived together for a certain period, or if there is a child of the relationship. To reach a fair result, the court is to take account of both contributions to the parties' property and financial resources, and their contributions to the welfare of the family. In this article the author outlines both narrow and wider approaches to de facto legislation in recent cases under the De Facto Relationships Act 1984 (NSW).

Latest Australian and Overseas Quality-of-Life Research

Ruth Weston

This article provides information on the First Conference of the International Society of Quality-of-Life Studies, held in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1997. The conference brought together social and behavioural science researchers to discuss factors affecting physical health and subjective well being. A broad range of topics were covered on the quality of life and its relation to work, unemployment, finances, interpersonal relationships, family life, school, leisure, religion, and health. The author discusses the input made by both Australian and international researchers.