Research shows children fare best in connected families

New research shows children can have more behaviour problems and difficulties socialising with peers if raised in families with high levels of parental conflict, or with low levels of parental warmth and few shared activities between parents and children.

Minister for Social Services Kevin Andrews said the research, published today in Occasional Paper 52, A safe and supportive family environment for children: key components and links to child outcomes, reaffirms the need for early intervention to help vulnerable families remain connected. “Stable and happy relationships are vital for couples and their children and happy families are essential components of strong and healthy communities,” Mr Andrews said.

“We know that investing in marriage and relationship education and counselling can strengthen relationships and help improve the wellbeing of couples and families.

“Supporting healthy and enduring relationships also makes great economic sense, given that divorce and relationship breakdown costs the Australian economy at least $3 billion every year.

“This is why the Australian Government has introduced the Stronger Relationships trial which provides up to 100,000 couples with $200 towards relationship education and counselling.”

Occasional Paper 52 uses data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) and its release coincides with the screening of ‘Life at 9’ on ABC1 tonight, the fifth instalment of an award-winning documentary series, which used data from the LSAC.

The ABC series follows the lives of 10 Australian children and their families from their first year of life, and examines the impact of family relationships, finances, work, health and education on children’s growth and development.

To view Occasional Paper 52, see www.dss.gov.au/about-the-department/publications-articles/research-publications/occasional-paper-series. For more information on the Stronger Relationship trial, see www.dss.gov.au/strongerrelationships.