Issue 94

Family Matters No. 94, 2014

Journal issue feature image

Families through a long lens

This issue of Family Matters presents a range of articles describing longitudinal studies being conducted on families and family wellbeing


Executive Editor: Ben Edwards

Editorial panel: David De Vaus, Ben Edwards, Kelly Hand, Alan Hayes, Daryl Higgins, Diana Smart, Carol Soloff

Editors: Katharine Day and Lan Wang

Cover art: The Family Matters No. 94 cover painting is by Eliza Piro, Banyan Branches Charcoal, mixed media on canvas 91 x 91 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Frances Keevil Gallery <>

Publication details

Family Matters No. 94
Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, October 2014, 80 pp.
1030-2646 (print) 1832-8318 (online)

Copyright information


Building a New Life in Australia: Introducing the Longitudinal Study of Humanitarian Migrants

John De Maio, Michelle Silbert, Rebecca Jenkinson and Diana Smart

Building a New Life in Australia is a new longitudinal study that will investigate the settlement pathways and outcomes of newly arrived humanitarian migrants, focusing particularly on the factors that promote or hinder a successful transition. This article introduces this new study, and explains its conceptualisation and development, design, topics covered, recruitment, and the survey methodology for Wave 1 data collection. It is anticipated that the first findings from the study will be available in late 2014-early 2015.

Pathways of Care: Longitudinal study on children and young people in out-of-home care in New South Wales

Marina Paxman, Lucy Tully, Sharon Burke and Johanna Watson

Pathways of Care is a longitudinal study on the wellbeing of children and young people placed in out-of-home care in New South Wales and the factors that influence their wellbeing. It will provide a strong evidence base to inform policy and practice, and in turn improve decision making about how best to support children and young people who have experienced abuse and neglect. Data collection commenced in May 2011 and will be completed by June 2016. This article introduces the study and describes its research objectives, sample frame, retention strategies, and methodology.

30 years on: Some key insights from the Australian Temperament Project

Suzanne Vassallo, Ann Sanson and Craig Olsson

In 2013, the Australian Temperament Project (ATP) longitudinal study celebrated its 30th anniversary. This article provides a brief overview of the ATP, and highlights some key findings that have emerged over the past three decades. From amongst the many research areas explored in the ATP, topics covered here include temperament, learning problems, mental health, risk-taking, bullying, positive development, and relationships with parents in adulthood. Future plans for the study are also presented, including the new ATP Generation 3 Study which commenced in 2011 - a unique longitudinal study of the children of the ATP participants.

"I expect my baby to grow up to be a responsible and caring citizen": What are expectant parents' hopes, dreams and expectations for their unborn children?

Elizabeth Peterson, Johanna Schmidt, Elaine Reese, Arier Lee, Polly Atatoa Carr, Cameron Grant and Susan Morton

This article explores the hopes and dreams of expectant parents in New Zealand. It presents findings from a sub-sample of 1,000 pregnant women and 644 partners in the Growing Up in New Zealand longitudinal study, on parents' early hopes, dreams, and expectations for their unborn children. Overall, the parents' hopes and expectations were overwhelmingly positive and fitted well within the six levels of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. The most predominant needs were both the lower level "physiological" needs and the higher level "self-actualisation" needs, suggesting that both the basic physical necessities of life and their child's ability to be able to fulfil his or her individual potential were particularly important. This qualitative exploration lays important groundwork for future analyses and insights into the changing hopes and dreams of New Zealand parents for their children over time.

Opinion - Re-thinking ageing research: Questions we need to know more about

Patricia Edgar

This opinion piece calls for for more - and better - research on ageing in Australia. It considers the wide range of issues needing further attention, including the markers of ageing, dependency, economic and social contribution, retirement and productivity, healthy ageing, changing family relationships and living arrangements, social isolation and life satisfaction, life expectancy, sexuality, and successful ageing. This article is an edited version of Dr Edgar's In Praise of Ageing presentation, given as part of the AIFS seminar series on 12 June 2014.

The experience of choice in voluntary relinquishment

Phillipa Castle

This article explores the concept of choice among mothers who voluntarily relinquish their child for adoption. Interviews were conducted with 15 mothers in Victoria who had relinquished a child since the introduction of open adoption in 1984. Though all of the mothers reported that the choice to relinquish was their own, the findings continue the perennial adoption theme that pressures - implicit and explicit - generated by the social context have a direct bearing on the decision to relinquish a baby - often producing a non-choice or forced choice.

The role and efficacy of Independent Children's Lawyers: Findings from the AIFS Independent Children's Lawyer Study

Rachel Carson, Rae Kaspiew, Sharnee Moore, Julie Deblaquiere, John De Maio and Briony Horsfall

Independent Children's Lawyers (ICL) can be appointed to represent the best interests of children and young people in family law proceedings in Australia, helping to fulfil the rights of children to participate in proceedings relevant to their care. The Australian Institute of Family Studies recently undertook a study into the role, use and efficacy of these lawyers; in particular, to determine to what extent their involvement in family law proceedings improves outcomes for children. This article summarises the key findings from the study. The full findings were published in 2013 by the Attorney-General's Department.

Social science and family law: From fallacies and fads to the facts of the matter

Alan Hayes

This article examines some of the fallacies and fads regarding social science "evidence" that can get in the way of the facts. As such, it has bearing on the broader question of how social science "evidence" is to be used in family law matters. It looks at: the historically contextualised and ever-changing nature of knowledge; some myths of uniformity and common misinterpretations of developmental science; and the primacy of discernment and judgement when assessing the facts of the matter, including the weight to be placed on social science evidence. This article was originally published in the recent book Families, policy and the law: Selected essays on contemporary issues for Australia, published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies in 2014.