Published: August 17, 2018

Support at the entry to parenthood is critical to making the economy work better for families.

This was a key message from Life Course Centre Director Professor Janeen Baxter, who participated in a prominent panel discussion at the 15th Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) conference in Melbourne.

Pictured above from left: Professor Matthew Grey, Professor Lyn Craig, Professor Janeen Baxter, Dr John Hewson and Virginia Trioli.

Professor Baxter was joined on the AIFS conference panel, ‘Can we make the economy work better for families?’, by Dr John Hewson, former Liberal Party leader and financial and economic commentator; Professor Lyn Craig, Professor of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Melbourne; and Professor Matthew Grey, Director ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods. The panel session was facilitated by ABC journalist, broadcaster and presenter Virginia Trioli.

“If there’s one point where we can support families it’s that entry to parenthood,” Professor Baxter told the panel and conference delegates.

She said support for families at the entry to parenthood included investment in child care, housing and employment that make it easier for parents to arrange work and family responsibilities in a more equal way.

The ‘Can we make the economy work better for families?’ panel generated wide-ranging discussion about the relationships between families, the economy and the future of work, particularly in relation to transformative economic changes and the rising pressures of insecure employment, housing affordability and the costs of living.

“We talk a lot about failure of government, but what about industry and business? Where are they in these discussions about families and the economy?” Professor Baxter commented.

The AIFS conference brought together thought leaders, policy-makers, researchers and service providers to explore what matters most to Australian families.

The conference featured 600 delegates, 245 presenters and 61 sessions covering a wide range of topics from economic issues, parenting and early childhood education to mental health, family law, child protection, family violence, and the future of families.