Issue 58

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Family Matters No. 58, 2001

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Searching for family resilience

Searching for family resilience; Foregone earnings through child rearing; Meeting the challenges of parenting.

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Publication details

Family Matters No. 58
Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, April 2001, XX pp.
1030-2646 (print) 1832-8318 (online)

Copyright information

Abstracts

Foregone earnings from child rearing

Matthew Gray and Bruce Chapman

When people think about the costs of raising children, they generally include only the direct expenditure involved. However, there are other costs that are often ignored. These indirect costs refer to the loss of income that a household experiences because one or both parents spend time out of paid employment or take a lower paying job in order to look after the children. In this article, the authors report on a recent study which examines the impact of children on their mothers lifetime earnings - a hidden cost of raising children.

Men's and women's reasons for not having children

Ruth Weston and Lixia Qu

Increasingly, men and women are deciding against starting families. The resulting ageing of the population has major implications for social policy. What reasons are people giving for not having children? Have the reasons changed since the early 1980s, and do these differ according to age? These issues are explored in this article drawing on data from two surveys conducted by the Australian Institute of Family Studies 15 years apar - the Australian Family Formation Study conducted in 1981 and the Australian Life Course Study conducted in 1996.

Marital status and the division of household labour : Cohabitation vs marriage

Janeen Baxter

One of the major changes in Australian family patterns in recent years has been the large increase in the numbers of couples who cohabit prior to marriage. Most research on the domestic division of labour has concentrated on married couples looking at the factors which promote or hinder egalitarian allocations of household labour between husbands and wives. Recently a number of studies have appeared which examine the allocation of housework across households with differing living arrangements. The results of this research tend to suggest that cohabiting and remarried couples have less traditional patterns of domestic labour than married couples. This article examines the impact of cohabitation on child rearing and housework patterns, asks whether cohabitees have more egalitarian arrangements than married couples and looks at the impact of cohabitation on domestic labour patterns after marriage. 

Work and welfare: the evolving role of income support: The evolving role of income support

Jocelyn Pech and John Landt

The Australian income support system was originally designed to provide a substitute for income from paid work, rather than a complement to such income. In recent decades, however, there have been significant changes in the Australian labour market and in the distribution of employment. Although there is now a higher proportion of people of working age in employment than at the start of the 1980s, fewer people are employed full time and more jobs are casual and/or low paid. In this article the authors discuss how the income support system has adapted to these changes.

Establishing family policy in Britain?

Jane Millar

The Labour government took office in Britain in May 1997 promising policy change across a wide range of areas. The question is whether the government's rhetoric has translated into actual policy, and if so, what is the nature of that policy, and what impact is it having on families? This article assesses the Labour government's record over the past four years. The first section is contextual, giving a brief outline of some of the key changes affecting families in the UK in recent years. The second and third sections give an overview of the main policy measures introduced, and examine one area in particular - the pledge to end child poverty. In the conclusion, the author raises some issues about the nature of emerging family policies in Britain.

Opinion: Building communities that strengthen families

Dorothy Scott

Despite the pervasive gloom and doom which seems to be the spirit of contemporary society, there are grounds for hope as there are now the conceptual and empirical components of a strong foundation for developing programs aimed at family strengthening and community building. In this opinion piece, the author outlines these components, gives examples of what she sees as promising programs, draws together the common ingredients, and identifies some of the challenges such programs face in 'going to scale'.

Benefits for children: A four country study

Michael Mendelson

'Benefits for children: a four country study' is a new international study which discusses and compares the child benefit programs of four countries: Australia, Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. These four Anglo-American countries were selected because they share enough similarities, and maintain enough differences, to make it possible to learn from one another and to adapt the lessons to each country. While the study reviews all cash benefits paid to families for their children, it concentrates on the new income tested programs. In Australia, the main program is the Family Tax Benefit Parts A and B; in Canada it is the Canada Child Tax Benefit; in the UK, it is the still to be implemented Integrated Child Credit and the universal Child Benefit; and in the US, it is the Earned Income Tax Credit and child credits and preferences in the tax system. This article is an abridged version of the introductory chapter of the study which compares child benefit programs of the four countries involved. Detailed discussions of the individual programs for each country are found in the other four country chapters of the study.

Family law update: The first three years of the Family Law Reform Act

Helen Rhoades, Reg Graycar and Margaret Harrison

This article represents a shortened version of the Executive Summary of a report by the authors of research undertaken into the operation of the Family Law Reform Act 1995, from the time it came into effect in June 1996 to the end of 1999. An overview of the main findings under the following headings is provided: No evidence of shift towards shared parenting among the target population; From certainty to confusion; Increase disputes; Terminology; Best interests of children?; Interaction of child support and shared residence arrangements; Increasing incidence of disputes about contact; and Increased pressure on women who fear violence to provide contact.

Meeting the challenges of parenting: Factors that enhance and hinder the role of parents

Grace Soriano, Ruth Weston and Violet Kolar

What makes life easier or more difficult for parents raising young children? How do parents from different cultural backgrounds view these issues? The Australian Institute of Family Studies' Parenting-21 study of families from Anglo, Torres Strait Islander and Vietnamese communities provides some insights. The project was part of an international study (the International Study of Schools, Parents and Children: ISPCS), the aim of which was to identify cross cultural difference and similarities in parenting beliefs, values, daily concerns and behaviour. The comments of the parents participating in the study highlighted the need to provide multi layered, flexible and culturally sensitive approaches to supporting families, with support for parenting directed at various system levels - the individual, group, family, community and society.

Fathering and children

Robin Sullivan

No amount of longing for the imagined 'good old days', where family members had clearly defined roles, can make such a world happen again. Boys and young men live in complex cultural contexts where experiences of what it means to be a male and a father are rich and diverse. This paper aims to clarify some of these issues by exploring the concepts of 'father' and 'fathering' and the sources of information that impact on construction of these concepts. It discusses a range of recent research and writing in Australia and the United States which has been used to frame the Focus on Fathering Project, conducted by the Queensland Commission for Children and Young People.

Searching for family resilience

Simone Silberberg

What gives a family the resilience to work through a crisis? Why is it that some families fall apart when faced with adversities, while others thrive and become stronger? What are the qualities of these resilient families? And how do these families establish and maintain these strengths? The answers to these questions have intrigued a broad range of people, from policy makers to community workers. The federal government instituted the Stronger Families and Communities Strategy with the purpose of building stronger family and community relationships. In 1999 the Family Action Centre at the University of Newcastle initiated the first Australian Family Strengths Research Project as part of the Strategy. The aim of this project was to determine which qualities Australian families perceived as family strengths, and the language families used to describe these qualities. In this article, the author provides an overview of the project.

Women's and men's consciousness of shortcomings in marital relations, and of the need for change

Ken Dempsey

Are women more or less satisfied with their marriage than men? Are they more interested than men in pressing for change in their relationship? A recent study collected information on men's and women's positive and negative feelings about their partners and their relationships. This paper is a preliminary report of findings from the Melbourne Marriage Survey which examined the perceptions of a sample of currently married men and women. It was undertaken to establish the existence of consciousness in both a general and specific sense of the need for change in the relationship. 

Towards a national partnership for developmental health and wellbeing

Fiona Stanley

Key researchers in children's health and development attended a recent meeting held at the Australian Institute of Family Studies. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the formation of a new national Research Partnership for Developmental Health and Wellbeing. This article describes some of the common themes and concerns shared by delegates to the workshop.