Issue 51

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Family Matters No. 51, 1998

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Changing families - challenging futures

We are pleased to publish in this issue of Family Matters the Keynote address delivered at the opening session of the conference by Dr Richard Eckersley, ‘Redefining Progress: Shaping the Future to Human Needs’, and several papers presented during the course of the conference.


Minister opens Institute Conference

Jocelyn Newman

In her speech opening the 6th Australian Institute of Family Studies Conference, the Minister For Family and Community Services refers to the Howard Government's belief that strong families are crucial to maintaining a stable, cohesive and compassionate society, and notes that this belief is the bedrock of our social welfare system. She discusses family breakdown, the need to encourage social and economic participation, and the Howard Government's track record, portfolio changes, election commitments and priorities.



Redefining progress: Shaping the future to human needs

Richard Eckersley

Ten years ago the author wrote 'Casualities of change: the predicament of youth in Australia', which analysed the worsening plight of young people, expressed in rising suicide, drug abuse, crime and also more widely in an increasing social detachment and alienation. He said in the report that the measures we are adopting to combat the problems we face will, if they make any impact at all, never fully succeed. In this paper, he explores how well his prediction of ten years ago has stood up. He discusses recent trends in youth problems, examines relevant social and economic indicators, discusses culture and values, and explores ways of responding to our situation. His argument is that the need to redefine progress is not a new message, but it is becoming more compelling. Whether we look at young people's well being or, more broadly, at the overall quality and sustainability of modern life, the evidence is mounting for a fundamental change in our world view.



A new model for 'Corporate Philanthropy'

Ron Burke

It is the author's thesis that we are at one of those rare moments in history when a conjunction of influences and events provides nations such as Australia with the need and the opportunity to address a range of issues of fundamental importance to their citizens. The major participants in this process should be our core institutions: governments, corporations, and major academic, religious, cultural and community organisations. The author argues the case for diverse opinion - but united effort - among these institutions in addressing the fundamental issues before our nation. Following a brief overview of global trends, the author considers the potential for modern corporations to be more actively engaged in addressing public policy and community issues, arguing that no progress will be made without understanding and taking into account the major changes underway in the corporate sector. In essence, he argues, there is a need to turn philanthropy from what is often an extension of social welfarism into more cogent, focused activity that is designed to bring about real social change.

Cultural diversity and family exchanges

Trevor Batrouney and Wendy Stone

The popular perception of the cohesiveness of migrant families compared with Australian-born families is that migrant families are relatively self-reliant. This paper examines the availability and dynamics of family supports across a range of Australian families to determine whether distinctive patterns exist for families from non English speaking backgrounds. (Journal abstract)

Attachment and marital adjustment

Robyn Parker and Evelyn Scannell

Raising couples' awareness of relationship issues that they might not have encountered or anticipated is a key aim of pre-marriage education programs. This paper discusses the role of 'attachment theory' in providing practitioners with a framework for helping couples build more satisfying committed relationships. (Journal abstract)

Parental disability and the threat of child removal

David McConnell and Gwynnyth Llewellyn

Families headed by parents with disabilities may be seriously disadvantaged as a consequence of an uneven spread of expertise among service providers. This paper discusses the situation of parents with intellectual disability in care and protection proceedings.

Family Poverty, Family Homelessness and the Systems Abuse Cycle

Terry Bartholomew

In early 1998, the Crossroads Housing Network and the Inner South Community Health Centre conducted a major study that explored the extent of family homelessness in Victoria. The study included an analysis of the trend for welfare organisations to place homeless families in private hotels as a form of emergency accommodation. As one component of this work, interviews were undertaken with thirty families who had recently stayed in private hotel accommodation. These interviews, and the subsequent focus groups with welfare practitioners, are drawn on in this article to highlight the limitations of current service provision in regards to family homelessness.

Low pay and family poverty: Tracing the links

Tony Eardley

A study in progress at the Social Policy Research Centre suggests that a trend towards working poverty has accelerated in the 1990s, and this article draws on the research to trace the links between individual low pay and family poverty.

Housing careers in a risk society: An empirical illustration

Ian Winter and Wendy Stone

This paper represents a metaphorical pause for thought in the ongoing work of the Institute's Housing Across the Life Course project. Initially informed by a life course perspective, early findings led the authors to consider other theoretical frameworks as a means of understanding change in contemporary Australian housing careers. Here they discuss the insights that might be offered by theorists of 'risk society' . (Journal abstract) 

Targeting at risk families: An evaluation of the Brimbank Family Outreach Service

Adam Tomison

An overview is provided of an evaluation of the Brimbank Family Outreach Service conducted by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, in partnership with Burgell Consulting. The Brimbank Family Outreach Service was designed to provide support and advice to 'at risk' families not currently identified as abusive, to reduce the problems of at risk families in order to prevent them becoming child protection clients, and to reduce the need of such families for the provision of significant family support resources. The major design features of the evaluation are set out, the case management framework described, and overall findings are summarised. Availability details for the Evaluation report and a companion document are provided.