Media Release by The Hon Larry Anthony MP

International Families Day marks release of three research papers into Australian families

Federal Minister for Community Services, Larry Anthony, today released three key studies into Australian families in recognition of the International Day of Families.

Commissioned by the Department of Family and Community Services in the latter half of 1999, the papers cover marriage and relationship education, early childhood, and work and family, in the Australian context.

Mr Anthony said the papers fill many of the gaps in Australian data about important family issues. They also identify the risks, impacts and challenges parents and children face in contemporary Australia and suggest innovative new policy approaches.

These research papers were used to help develop the Government’s $240 million Stronger Families and Communities Strategy.

“The findings had a major influence on a number of new measures announced in this year’s Budget by Federal Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Jocelyn Newman, as part of the Stronger Families and Communities Strategy,” Mr Anthony said.

“Designed to strengthen Australian families, the Strategy substantially boosts Government funding for family services and support. This includes $40 million for a Stronger Families Fund; $47.3 million for parenting and relationship support;
$65.4 million to improve flexibility and choice in child care; and $20 million for a nine-year study into early childhood.”

Details of the three papers are:

  • Australian Couples in Millennium Three: A research and development agenda for marriage and relationship educationby Professor Kim Halford from Griffith University. This paper discusses the major determinants of strong couple relationships, the current state of knowledge about relationship education, the limitations of current approaches to relationship education and proposals to make it more effective;
  • A Review of Early Childhood Literatureby a team, headed up Professor Frank Oberklaid, from the Centre for Community Child Health at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, which reviews a number of longitudinal studies and identifies early childhood risk and protective factors; and
  • Work and Family: Current thinking, research and practice by Associate Professor Graeme Russell and Lyndy Bowman from Macquarie University, which examines work and family issues, including the influence of work on family strength and wellbeing.

“The Howard Government will continue to support quality research work like this to help welfare reform and social policy development. I want to congratulate all the researchers involved in these reports for producing such valuable information,” Mr Anthony said.

“In responding to the research findings with the Stronger Families and Communities Strategy initiatives, the Government is building on its commitment to strengthening Australian families by helping them early on, before problems become entrenched.”