Media Release by Senator the Hon Amanda Vanstone

Let’s Listen to the Kids

Children’s views about the way their parents balance work and family commitments will be highlighted at a one-day national conference officially opened today in Sydney by Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Amanda Vanstone.

Senator Vanstone said the Work and Family: Listening to our Children conference was a first for Australia and would inject a new and refreshing children’s perspective into the ongoing work and family debate.

Senator Vanstone also released the findings of a new Australian study conducted by the Australian Institute of Family Studies. The study, Work and Family: The Family’s Perspective explores how Australian children and their working parents, think and talk about the relationship between work and family.

“One of the clearest messages of the study is that parents should talk to their kids about work and family issues,” Senator Vanstone said.

“Kids have a lot to say about the amount of time that parents should spend with them, and what they would like to do in that time.

“They generally see the positive aspects of their parents work and they want their parents to like their work, it is just that they want their parents to love them more than work.

“The conference provides a fantastic and innovative way to add a different dimension to this increasingly topical debate. Let’s listen, and importantly, take notice of what children and their parents are saying about their needs around balancing work and family.

“There are over 2 million Australian families with dependant children where either one or both parents work, so the children’s views and opinions can be extremely valuable in helping the Government find the best way to support families with this often difficult task.”

Senator Vanstone said that the Howard Government had invested a great deal in helping working families, including more than $2 billion extra already provided to families through the Family Tax Benefit and the $240 million, Stronger Families and Community Strategy.

“This Government is committed to helping families manage their dual responsibilities of work and family. This conference provides the perfect opportunity to learn more about the needs of families and to give children a voice in this debate,” Senator Vanstone said.