National Families Week 2017 commences next week, coinciding with the UN International Day of the Family on 15 May. It is a time to reflect on the vital importance of families and their role in building stronger communities.
Families Australia has been privileged to convene National Families Week each year for the past 14 years. Over that time more than a million people have participated in thousands of community events around Australia to celebrate the centrality of families in our lives. The diversity of events mirrors the diversity of families in Australia today.
Whatever form they take, families are our most time-honoured settings for receiving, giving and nurturing love, understanding and support.
I think of National Families Week as a time to encourage all Australians to reflect on what family means to them; to consider the great strengths and variety of families, the many challenges they face and the importance of seeking help when it’s needed.
National Families Week is especially important to me as I think about family. I believe that families are among life’s very most precious gifts. They take many forms, yet all are the same in needing nourishment. Whatever form they take, families are our most time-honoured settings for receiving, giving and nurturing love, understanding and support.
Families can connect us with our past and can be the ground for the future through children. I think they are the places where we have the best chance of being understood for who we are, not what we possess or the power we wield. They can give us meaning in life and hope when the outside world fails us, or when we fail.
Families can locate us in the wider world and focus our joy and suffering. All families face storms: they can be strong and fragile all at once. They prosper from the character, abilities and sacrifices of their parts. Strong families also grow other families around them. To withstand and prosper, they all require understanding, respect and support.
Dr Brian Babington
9 May 2017