Issue 96

Family Matters No. 96, 2015

Journal issue feature image

Healthy families, healthy children

This edition presents a range of articles based on research presented at the 13th AIFS Conference 2014.

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Executive Editor: Lawrie Moloney

Editorial panel: Alan Hayes, Daryl Higgins, Elly Robinson, Debbie Scott

Editors: Katharine Day, Lan Wang

Cover art: The Family Matters No. 96 cover painting is by Melanie Hava, Brolgas Dancing, mixed media on canvas, 76 × 60 cm. Reproduced courtesy of the artist and Manyung Gallery Mount Eliza <>. Melanie Hava will be exhibiting landscapes at Manyung Gallery Mount Eliza from Friday 3 July to Sunday 26 July.

Publication details

Family Matters No. 96
Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, June 2015, 84 pp.
1030-2646 (print) 1832-8318 (online)

Copyright information


Marriage, cohabitation and mental health

Paul Amato

Research consistently shows that married people have better mental health than single people do. However, the research is unclear on whether marriage causes improvements in mental health or whether people with better mental health are more likely to marry, and whether the benefits of marriage extend equally to wives and husbands and also to non-marital relationships such as cohabitation. This article looks at findings from a new U.S. study that seeks to explore these questions: the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health).

Children in Australia: Harms and hopes

Dorothy Scott

In addressing child abuse and neglect in Australia, this article asks us to consider also the wider, broader harms that children are exposed to in our modern society - as part of the "packaged" nature of the problems in many troubled families. It discusses the need for child protection reform, the need for collaboration, population-based reform, and the contribution of children. This article is an edited transcript of the author's keynote address given at the 13th Australian Institute of Family Studies Conference, 2014.

Ethical research involving children: Putting the evidence into practice

Anne Graham

Undertaking research with children and young people gives rise to a number of ethical challenges and dilemmas - both predictable and unforseen. This article introduces the Ethical Research Involving Children (ERIC) project, which provides a best-practice framework for approaching such issues and ensuring that research involving children can justifiably be deemed 'ethical'. Researchers and policy makers are invited to access and contribute to the project's resources.

Challenges in the family: Problematic substance use and sibling relationships

Lisa Incerti, Claire Henderson-Wilson and Matthew Dunn

This article explores the lived experience of having a sibling with a problematic substance use issue, and how this affects the adult sibling relationship. It discusses findings from interviews with 13 women, highlighting themes of trust and secrecy, protectiveness, despair and frustration, and being overlooked and "not validated". The findings have implications for family therapy and support services.

A public health approach to enhancing safe and supportive family environments for children

Daryl Higgins

Building on the growing consensus that communities are best served by a public health approach to child protection, this article demonstrates that it is possible to identify family environments at a population level that could be the subject of public health interventions. Though child maltreatment research has traditionally focused on "problematic families", there is also benefit in investigating family environments and risk-factor precursors in the general population. This article draws on findings from the 2004 report by Mullan and Higgins that analysed different types of family environments using the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC).

The Triple P-Positive Parenting Program: An example of a public health approach to evidence-based parenting support

John Pickering and Matthew Sanders

Using the Triple P-Positive Parenting Program as a case study, this article discusses how to design and disseminate a system of parenting support within a public health framework in Australia. It describes the importance of public health programs, the design and rationale of Triple P, the evaluation evidence supporting Triple P, how a public health approach to parenting support works, and the reliable measurement of population-level effects.

Attitudes to post-separation care arrangements in the face of current parental violence

Lawrie Moloney, Ruth Weston and Lixia Qu

Determining appropriate post-separation parenting arrangements in cases of alleged or proven family violence is an ongoing issue. One of the factors involved in this difficult area of decision-making is community attitudes to family violence. This article examines public attitudes to child contact or shared care in cases of parent violence towards the other parent, drawing on data from the Australian Survey of Social Attitudes. The survey reveals that a significant proportion of the community appear willing to endorse continued parenting arrangements in the face of family violence, suggesting that some individuals do not see this violence as an obstacle to a perceived need for children to continue to have both parents in their lives. The article then considers these attitudes in light of evidence from the Longitudinal Study of Separated Families (LSSF) - a large-scale study conducted by the Australian Institute of Family Studies.