Issue 78

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Family Matters No. 78, 2008

Journal issue feature image

Challenged lives

Challenges that face some families - poverty, deprivation, homelessness, caring for a disabled family member, parenting following separation, and child abuse

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Executive Editor: Matthew Gray

Editorial panel: Matthew Gray, Alan Hayes, Daryl Higgins, Diana Smart, Ruth Weston

Editor: Lan Wang

Cover art: Nick Howsen, Night, 2007, Oil on linen, 153 x 198cm. Image courtesy of Schubert Contemporary Gallery, Queensland.

Publication details

Family Matters No. 78
Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, April 2008, 72 pp.
1030-2646 (print) 1832-8318 (online)

Copyright information


Social inclusion: A policy platform for those who live particularly challenged lives

Alan Hayes and Matthew Gray

In many developed economies there is currently a focus on how the lives of the most disadvantaged in society can be improved and the role that governments can play in this. A number of European countries have embraced a social policy approach that places a priority on those who are excluded from the opportunities that promote wellbeing. This article provides a brief overview of social inclusion and related literatures and some of the issues surrounding the concept. It concludes that while social inclusion has been adopted as an organising principle for social policy in a number of countries, the experience of these countries is mixed and the extent to which the social inclusion agenda has been successful is contested. It concludes that it is important that Australia learns from the international experiences to take what worked and avoid some of the pitfalls. An overview of the other articles in the edition is also provided.

Measuring wellbeing using non-monetary indicators: Deprivation and social exclusion

Peter Saunders

New frameworks and indicators are needed that relate more directly to the actual experience of poverty by capturing its multidimensional nature. This article focuses on the deprivation and social exclusion approaches, and examines the extent of each among Australian families using data from The Left Out and Missing Out social survey. The research identifies a set of items that constitute the essentials of life - things that no one in Australia should have to go without - and these form the basis of the indicators of deprivation (missing out on them because of a lack of resources) and exclusion (being left out of participation in common activities). The deprivation indicators highlight the fact that many families are unable to afford to meet even the most basic needs for food, shelter and good health. The exclusion indicators show how lack of access to important health and community services and exclusion from social and economic activities are also common. Addressing the different dimensions of social disadvantage will not emerge as an automatic spin-off of efforts to maximise economic growth, but developing programs to combat the different forms of social disadvantage is an important challenge.

How do parents and teenagers get along together?: Views of young people and their parents

Diana Smart, Ann Sanson and John Toumbourou

The parent-child relationship is closely linked to child well being, and yet the period of adolescence is widely believed to be a time of conflict and stress. Drawing upon data from the Australian Temperament Project - a longitudinal study of children and their development - this article examines whether parents and teenagers are getting along together, and whether this affects adolescent temperament and development. Findings are presented on parents and teenagers views on relationship quality; whether these views are agreed; and the association with family conflict, parenting style, and adolescent personal characteristics, social skills, self esteem, peer relations, and school problems. These findings are in line with many other studies which show that most parents and teenagers enjoy good relationships.

Caring and women’s labour market participation

Matthew Gray, Ben Edwards and Norbert Zmijewski

The impact of caring on the income and labour market participation of carers can be substantial. In this article, the authors describe the labour force status of carers who receive an Australian Government payment directed to carers, with a particular focus on the degree to which non-employed carers want to be in paid employment. The extent to which having caring responsibilities has a causal impact upon labour force participation, and the job changes that employed carers have made as a consequence of their caring responsibilities are also explored, as are the implications of paid work for the income of carers. 

Stuff you’d never think of: Children talk about homelessness and how they’d like to be supported

Tim Moore, Morag McArthur and Debbie Noble-Carr

This article reports on research carried out with children who had experienced homelessness in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), which involved taking a comprehensive and innovative qualitative methodology for engaging the children in the project. This article discusses what ‘homelessness’ means to children who have accompanied their parents during periods of homelessness. Although problematic, children reported that during periods of homelessness they felt connected and supported by their families and that their parents mitigated some of its negative affects. They believed that having lived through difficult times they and their families had developed an appreciation for life and a sense that they could overcome future challenges. Children’s involvement in research such as this contributes to our knowledge about how children experience homelessness and having a home in important way

An evaluation of a new post-separation and divorce parenting program

Thea Brown

The Parenting Orders Program was developed in Australia to provide post-separation and divorce psycho-educational and support services to parents with disputes or conflicts. This article describes the history and development of the Program in Australia, and discusses the findings of an evaluation of one of these programs. The Gordoncare family welfare agency was the first to implement the program model in Victoria. Their outcome evaluation project examined the characteristics of the participating client families, and the clients’ perceived value and use of the program. The findings supported the program’s social and financial worth as an alternative to repeated court hearings.

Some aspects of the early history of child protection in Australia

John Fogarty

This article traces the history of child protection in Australia - from its beginnings in the animal welfare movement of 19th century New York, then the establishment of orphanages and institutions, through United Nations responses to the great world wars, to more recent welfare action for Aboriginal children in the Northern Territory. Australia was first settled in the 18th century with British laws: children held few rights, were subject to their fathers, and could be transported as convicts as adult felons. These laws, and public values, have slowly changed since then, and the next obvious steps are the implementation of the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child and addressing the foster care system.