Building Stronger Australian Families

Since its inception in the early 2000s, Families Australia has provided policy advice to successive Australian Governments and Parliaments about how to improve the wellbeing of Australia’s families, especially those who are experiencing the greatest marginalisation and vulnerability.

While many families are doing well on a range of indicators such as healthy and supportive relationships, many others face significant challenges. At the risk of omitting many other important issues, below is a snapshot of some key issues facing some families and children in Australia today.

  • Young parents are more likely to not have a Year 12 qualification, be unemployed and receive welfare payments (for example, 90% of young parents on Parenting Payment do not have a Year 12 qualification) (Australian Government Department of Education Employment and Workplace Relations 2011).
  • The gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians is estimated to be 9.7 years for women and 11.5 years for men (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2010).
  • An estimated 17% of women in Australia have experienced violence by a partner (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2012).
  • People from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds with limited proficiency in English are less likely than those highly proficient in English to be working full time (27% compared with 57% of 25-64 year olds) (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2009).
  • Compared to the children with Australian-born English-speaking mothers, children with an overseas-born mother with poor English proficiency were significantly more likely to have low parental income and more likely to have a mother with incomplete secondary education (Priest et al. 2012).
  • Of parents with children in out-of-home care, 43% report substance abuse and 37% report alcohol abuse (Teesson et al. 2004).
  • People with a disabling mental illness are less likely to participate in the workforce than the general population (51% compared to 82%) and significantly more work part time (49% compared to 28%) (Teesson et al. 2004).
  • Experiences of child abuse and neglect often lead to poor wellbeing in adulthood including mental health issues, drug and alcohol problems, and greater risk of violence and criminal behaviour (Lamont 2010).
  • In 2013-14, there were around 143,000 children receiving child protection services (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2015). Of these, 99,210 were the subject of an investigation, 55,067 were on a care and protection order and 43,000 were in out-of-home care.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were seven times as likely as non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children to be receiving child protection services in general, or to be the subject of substantiated abuse or neglect, and over nine times as likely to be on a care and protection order or in out-of-home care (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2015).
  • Rates of children in substantiations, on care and protection orders, and in out-of-home care have increased since 2009-10 (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2015).

Read more about Australian families here.

In response to many of these issues, Families Australia has made numerous submissions to Australian Government and Parliamentary inquiries and policy development processes over the past decade.


In November 2015, Families Australia held its first of a series of forums around Building Stronger Australian Families. The forum was led by Professor Alan Hayes AM, Distinguished Professor in Family Studies, Director, Family Action Centre, Faculty of Health and Medicine, University of Newcastle and Dr Lyndall Strazdins, Professor and ARC Future Fellow, National Centre of Epidemiology and Population Health, Australian National University.

Read the Building Stronger Australian Families Forum report here

View Building Stronger Australian Families policy forums here