Issue 70

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Family Matters No. 70, 2005

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Allocating time to work and family

Mothers' views on using formal child care; Access to family-friendly work arrangements

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Editorial panel: Alan Hayes, Meredith Michie, Alison Morehead, Catherine Rosenbrock, Denise Swift, Ruth Weston

Editor: Meredith Michie

Cover art: Yuri Matsko – born 1947 St Petersburg, Dinnertime, 1971. Oil on linen, 29.8 x 32.8 cm. Courtesy Bridget McDonnell Gallery, Melbourne.

Publication details

Family Matters No. 70
Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, March 2005, 72 pp.
1030-2646 (print) 1832-8318 (online)

Copyright information


Governments, workplaces and households: To what extent do they shape how mothers allocate time to work and family, and what role do prefer

Alison Morehead

Rather than talking about the role of preferences, it might be more useful to talk about the role of supports, pressures and additional labour in determining how mothers allocate time to work and family. In this article the author examines the skewed allocation of paid and unpaid work within households with working parents. She argues that a mother's preferences are maintained or changed over time in response to a range of supports and pressures.

Mothers' views on using formal child care

Kelly Hand

Drawing on data from the Family Work Decisions Study, a research project undertaken by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, this article explores mothers' reasons for using or not using child care, and their views on the child care available to them. Differences between mothers in their beliefs about using formal child care and their preferred child care arrangements, seem to depend on their beliefs about motherhood. The mothers interviewed in the study based their decisions on whether or not to use formal child care on their own child rearing ideologies, rather than on particular characteristics of care, and on what they think is good for their children.

Caring for children and adults: Differential access to family-friendly work arrangements

Matthew Gray and Jody Hughes

The importance of parents having access to work arrangements that enable them to adequately care for their children is widely recognised and accepted. Much less attention has been given to the importance of creating work places that allow employees to provide care for elderly, disabled, or ill parents, spouses or other adults. As the population ages over the next few decades, increasing numbers of employees will be providing care for their parents or other adults. This paper presents evidence on the use of flexible work arrangements to provide adult care and how this compares to the use by those caring for children

Current approaches to marriage and relationship research in the United States and Australia

Robyn Penman

This paper is concerned with the decline in marriage rates over the past 30 years, arguments about the undermining of the institution of marriage and, in particular, with the relevance to Australia of the approach of Linda Waite, a family sociologist, and Maggie Gallagher, a journalist, in their book, The Case for Marriage. They wrote their book in response to what they saw as an attack on the institution of marriage, and compiled evidence to show that marriage conferred a number of benefits to the spouses. This article addresses the questions of whether married Australians are better off than their non married counterparts and if there are any differences between married and non married people, are they attributable directly to the institution of marriage.

Snapshot of couple families with stepparent-child relationships

Lixia Qu and Ruth Weston

Stepparent-child relationships that cross household boundaries, through the repartnering of a non resident parent (typically the father) are rarely documented in statistics on family types. In this article the authors explore the prevalence of these relationships within households and of those that cross household boundaries. The authors provide a snapshot which highlights the complicated stepparent - child arrangements that exist as a result of the changing pathways to stepfamily formation.

Chronic and isolated maltreatment in a child protection sample

Leah Bromfield and Daryl Higgins

Researchers and practitioners in the field of child maltreatment often consider child abuse and neglect as a single or repeated series of isolated events. However, such an approach fails to acknowledge that some children's development is characterised by repeated incidents of maltreatment over a prolonged period of time. It also fails to address the cumulative impact of repeated victimisation on children's physical, psychological and developmental outcomes. In this paper, the experience of maltreatment is explored using data from a statutory child protection service, and a new conceptual approach for describing chronic maltreatment is proposed.

What is life like for young Australians today, and how well are they faring?

Diana Smart and Ann Sanson

How are young people coping with the complexity and uncertainty of modern life? Is the sky the limit, or are their lives tough and unrewarding? Are young people happy or miserable? This paper reports on the progress and perspectives of 1157 young people aged 19 - 20 years. It is part of the Australian Temperament Project (ATP), a multi disciplinary collaborative project between the Australian Institute of Family Studies, the University of Melbourne and the Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne. To date, this ongoing, longitudinal study, which began in 1983, has followed the progress of a large, representative group of Victorian children from infancy to 19-20 years of age. This article provides a description of the differing facets of young people's lives. The next step in the study is to examine in more depth the inter relationships between positive and problematic aspects.

Family law update: Changes to federal family law and state domestic violence legislation

Catherine Caruana

It has been 30 years since the proclamation of the Family Law Act 1975. There have been significant changes, not so much to the Act itself, but rather to the family law system which has evolved since the Act commenced operation in January 1976. This article provides a progress report on the current batch of reforms and an outline of some recent developments in domestic violence legislation in the states of Tasmania, Western Australia, Victoria and New South Wales.