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It's About Time - Chapter 5

It's About Time

Chapter 5: Striking the balance in the family

5.1 Introduction
5.2 Signs of change
5.3 Changing family structures require additional social support
5.4 Translating values into reality
5.5 Sharing care
5.6 Distributing household tasks fairly
5.7 Caring for people beyond the home
5.8 Education and cultural change
5.9 Conclusion

5.1 Introduction

A more equitable sharing of unpaid and paid work across society relies on the decisions made by individuals within the home. It is within households and their extended family networks that choices about reconciling paid work and family/carer responsibilities take place, particularly those relating to who undertakes care and other unpaid work. Daily choices about who in a family does the dishes and who works overtime can have cumulative and long term consequences on paid work/care balance, ultimately limiting some men to a breadwinner role with insufficient family time, and women to an unpaid carer role that leaves them with diminishing paid work opportunities. These seemingly "private" decisions are in fact shaped by the public context in which they are made: for example, the employment options available to families in particular communities, the availability of child and aged care, or the taxation implications of re-entering the paid workforce.

Further, while attitudinal research shows that 90 per cent of Australian men and women believe in sharing parental care,1 decisions about how paid and unpaid work should be arranged are often affected by assumptions and stereotypes. Submissions and consultations made it clear that many Australian men and women would like to better share paid work and care but feel unable to make this a reality.

As noted in Chapter 2 and in the Striking the Balance discussion paper, Australian women currently carry a much greater load of unpaid work in households, including child care, elder care and housework than men.2 This greater responsibility for unpaid work is not limited to women in couples who have chosen to adopt traditional male breadwinner/female caregiver roles. Survey data shows that in couples where men and women both work full time women undertake more than twice the amount of housework as men.3 Women who undertake paid work, particularly mothers, experience severe time pressures as a result and these pressures have been linked to negative outcomes such as poor health.4 The greater responsibility that women carry in for unpaid work in the home disadvantages them in the labour market.5 There is also evidence that family relationships suffer due to lack of balance in unpaid work in the home.6

If men and women are to be supported to make the choices that best meet the needs of them and their families, more needs to be done to change attitudes and assumptions around paid work and unpaid care work. This includes awareness-raising at the community level, including formal and informal education from the early years onward. Specific initiatives for parents, particularly for critical or transitional times in the life course, would contribute to the cultural and institutional change that is needed to support a shared work - valued care approach. For men in particular, targeted programs and services that help break down the barriers to men's participation in caring work have proven to be useful for achieving individual and collective change.

This chapter draws on submissions received and HREOC consultations and focus groups to paint a picture of the current pressures and supports for sharing care within the family. It then outlines the further development needed in key areas within the education system and the community as a whole to support the choices that Australian families want to make.

5.2 Signs of change

Submissions to HREOC and our consultations with the public raised many barriers to men's greater participation in caring and other forms of unpaid work.7 However Australian men also told HREOC that they want to share care, and in many cases are already doing so, particularly care of their children.

I think fathers' expectations ... are changing generationally. They expect to be more involved, certainly with the younger ones they are... more committed to the relationship and want to be involved as fathers.8

I found in my first marriage that I was the breadwinner and that I was missing out on so much with my daughter... Yes, [my partner] wanted me home more but also wanted all the material things. I couldn't see how I could be at home and give her everything she wanted. With [my daughter] I now I find I would rather be at home with her. I want to be more involved with my child's life.9

I always tried to put work around things. Even when I was with my wife and working full time I always left work early one day a week to pick the kids up from school to spend the afternoon with them. For the rest of the week I was getting home at 7 pm at night 4 days a week. I didn't want to come home and see the kids briefly at night and then be taking off to work the next morning without seeing them.10

We have a number of dads in our program who have given up work to care for children.11

The guys that we are supporting, from whatever socio-economic situation, the guys are taking an increasing role... in bringing up their kids.12

These examples demonstrate that despite the barriers to sharing care - some of which are discussed below - there are some positive signs of change which should be fostered on the home front as elsewhere in society. Without down-playing the statistics on unpaid work nor the reality of the barriers and pressures working against men's greater involvement with their families, it is important to support men's engagement in unpaid work by acknowledging the men who arealreadyleading such change.13

The following comments provided to HREOC emphasise the positive and still evolving nature of this social change.

In general, fathers still plan their family time around the demands of work time while mothers tend to plan their work around the family needs. However, the role and aspirations of fathers are changing. They want more time with their families and a closer involvement with their children, but are wary of the consequences for their careers. Where men do take time off work after having a child, the bonding that results has lasting and positive effects on the father-child relationship.14

I think a lot of men are acting like pioneers... forging their own way, but I think it's still not completely accepted that men might take on the role as the primary carer of their children.15

What is occurring is a quiet men's revolution... noticed as men talk about achieving a better balance between work and family demands... seen by how men behave differently as they walk hand-in-hand with their children and proudly push the pram.16

Translating these signs into widespread social changes in the way we manage paid work and care is a challenge given the many factors which influence decision-making within Australian families. In spite of widespread acceptance of egalitarianism, there is a lack of cultural and structural support for a shared work - valued care approach. Encouraging and supporting men to be more involved in caring tasks is an important part of lessening the domestic and caring load that women currently carry. The educational and awareness-raising activities discussed below will, in combination with other recommendations made by HREOC, enable men to participate more fully in care giving. In time, having more men involved in unpaid work may even increase the status of the work in addition to encouraging greater social acceptance of men, and in particular fathers, as carers.

5.3 Changing family structures require additional social support

Strong community support for combining paid work and care is essential in light of changing family and community structures.17 Attitudes about gender in terms of paid work and caring have changed greatly in recent years as the result of widespread economic and social change and the influence of social movements.18 Working patterns have changed for men and women, families have diminished in size and the population has generally become more mobile. These social changes have meant that opportunities for distributing care responsibilities informally through familial and community networks have lessened. Work intensification and long hours have squeezed the time available for families to provide care with the result that more outside assistance is often needed to help with managing care responsibilities.

Australian families are more diverse, complex and changeable than ever before, but despite this diversity, HREOC has heard that many families who differ from the male breadwinner/female homemaker norm (or homemaker with a small amount of part time work) do not feel supported to make the paid work and care decisions that are right for them. For example, traditional attitudes and stereotypes about women being best placed to provide care can make it less likely for men to feel supported as they take on caring work. This is also the case for families who experience multiple layers of disadvantage and those with multiple caring responsibilities.

Regardless of family type or circumstance, all families must make decisions about how to organise their paid work and family/carer responsibilities, including how they distribute unpaid and paid work between family members. Decisions about managing paid work and care will also inevitably change as care needs change over the life course. These decisions play a key role in a developing an integrated model of paid work and care. Incorporating contemporary social attitudes towards sharing paid work and care within a framework that supports shared work - valued care is a key part of supporting families to make decisions that best meet their needs and preferences.

Breaking down unhelpful stereotypes about gender and caring roles and supporting change through awareness raising and education is an important part of this process, particularly as a way of ensuring that attitudinal change is matched by behavioural change in the home. While attitudes have changed and continue to change, this does not, as noted in the Striking the Balance discussion paper, necessarily translate into change in practice in terms of sharing unpaid work. HREOC has found evidence of a desire among many families to share caring responsibilities better. Yet HREOC has also heard of many institutional and cultural barriers to doing so.

5.4 Translating values into reality

While Australians value caring work in principle, this does not translate into social recognition of care, as unpaid care of family members is commonly treated as a private matter without broader economic and social benefits. Similarly, while Australians believe that both domestic and caring work should be equally shared by men and women, the reality is an unequal division of labour.

Unpaid work is socially undervalued

It is clear from HREOC's consultations, the submissions that have been received and wider public commentary that most Australians place a high value on equality and fairness, in the home as in other areas of life. We place a high value on unpaid work, including volunteer work within the community, caring for relatives, friends and neighbours in need and caring work within individual homes.19 Motherhood and increasingly fatherhood are valorised for their contribution to raising new generations of Australian citizens who in turn become citizens, workers, consumers and tax payers helping to support current and future generations. As one submission put it:

In its simplest form, our social structure would collapse without unpaid carers as the home is the primary site for development and early knowledge acquisition. One must recognise that child rearing is an investment in the future and that to insure sustainable social cohesion and social capital we must then recognise the importance of raising the future generation. Having a baby is not just about one person making a life style choice, it is about a family unit contributing to society's future by shaping their child into a productive, contributing member of our society's future.20

On the other hand, while many individuals and organisations who have commented to HREOC personally value caring and other unpaid work highly, they also note a general undervaluing of this work within society and a squeezing of the time available to do it. As a submission from an individual explained:

The most meaningful work I have undertaken has been in caring for family members including my cousin, father, grandfather and mother. I agree that such work appears devalued in our society but makes a vital contribution, not least of all economic, to the well being of the country... I would also concur that we are under ever greater working pressures. My contribution to this paper has been limited because there are just not enough hours in the day.21

A number of contributors commented on the gendered nature of paid and unpaid work and the effect that this has on the value of unpaid work.22 One submission connected the undervaluing of unpaid work with men's willingness to undertake it:

... the contributions made to our nation by those who care for children and undertake other unpaid family work are seen as secondary, if they are seen at all, to the contributions made by those in paid employment. There is little incentive for greater numbers of men to take up unpaid family work while it remains undervalued.23

Overall, submissions and consultation participants were in agreement on the social value of care as well as the economic value of care, with some submissions pointing to studies which estimate the worth of care in economic terms.24 A key piece of the paid work and care puzzle, however, is the reconciliation of what we say we value with our daily practices. What we value and what we actually do can vary considerably, as some studies have shown.25

Expectations of equality are not being realised

Attitudes to sharing caring and housework among Australian men and women show strong acceptance of flexible and egalitarian gender roles, with research indicating that men and women believe that housework and parenting should be shared, not divided by gender.26

Expectations of equality are strong among young people, and seem particularly so among young women.27 However these expectations can clash with the current realities of combining paid work and caring work. A submission from the YWCA Australia noted:

The experience of YWCAs in Australia shows that while many girls and young women grow up believing that men and women are in principle 'equal', it is when paid work and family responsibilities collide that women first recognise that we have not progressed as far towards equality as first thought, and that the family and caring obligations of her mother's and grandmother's generations are quickly, and unexpectedly, becoming her own. YWCA Australia identifies these differences in social expectations for women and men as a key factor dictating women's lives. Many young women members of the YWCA feel the pressure to have children is coming from all directions, including the Federal Government with their once off Baby Payment incentive.28

Another submission based on a study conducted by university students showed a mismatch between aspirations for an ideal of egalitarian sharing of unpaid and paid work and the likelihood that they would be realised.

The findings of this study indicate that there is a willingness amongst [male] students to deviate from the traditional male-breadwinner model. There was an evident desire to share the load' with respect to family commitments however the respondents perceived a shortcoming in their ability to do so due to perceived societal, economic and organisational constraints. Similarly, when discussing the issue of family-friendly policies in the workplace, the respondents did not appear to be reticent to use such benefits if they existed due to the fear of adverse career consequences but rather, they did not expect such policies to be made available. Thus, there appeared to be a conflict between changing aspirations and peripheral pressures.29

This submission also noted a gap between male respondents' initial use of the language of equality with regard to unpaid work and their future expectations.

The new man' rhetoric utilised by the participants in response to initial questioning was undermined in the majority of cases by later responses in regard to child care, and becoming a stay-at-home-dad'. In many cases there were unspoken assumptions that their partner would bear the greater responsibility for child care. Thus whilst the men utilised language that emphasised equality, it seemed that in reality they expected their wives to relinquish their careers (at least for a period) to raise their children.30

A number of submissions provided the stories behind the time use statistics cited in the Striking the Balance discussion paper. Some painted a stark picture of inequity within the home and its associated frustrations, for example:

My views about equity in the home? It doesn't exist!31

...I believe that equity in parenthood doesn't exist and from my experience, I will only be having as many children as my mum and I can cope with!32

Some laid down a challenge to men to engage in household work.

Men need to accept responsibility for housework. Until they do, as long as they continue to rest in times when they are not work rather than doing housework, we cannot achieve equality. Housework and caring for children and elderly people is unpaid, low status, repetitive, but necessary work. Men simply must move into the domestic sphere and take responsibility for this work if they wish to live in an equal society.33

Other submissions highlighted the need to create the conditions under which men and women could make decisions on the basis of equality. For example, one submission notes the different structural and cultural factors behind men's lower participation in unpaid work.

It is suggested that while many Australians believe in the equal sharing of caring roles and unpaid work, this is probably an in-principle position, based on the assumption that all other factors being equal. The likely reason for the difference between stated values and reality are that others factors are not equal. This suggests the appropriate focus of future initiatives to address gender imbalances in caring and unpaid work are the institutional and other barriers that prevent those values being put into reality.34

The ongoing influence of gendered caring roles was considered a major factor by some in preventing greater participation by men in unpaid work. As one submission argued:

Existing gender roles are such that men's paid work is often viewed to be compulsory' (it is their primary obligation/responsibility), while their unpaid work is considered more optional' (if they don't do it, it will still get done by their partner). In contrast, women's unpaid work is often viewed to be a compulsory' element while their paid work is considered more optional' (if they don't do it, it will still get done by their partner).35

Others highlighted cultural factors such as ethnicity as shaping the decisions men and women make about sharing care and other unpaid work.

In our community if a dad stayed at home it is looked down on. They will be like, what is he doing?' It's like he is not a man.36

Many men raised the issue of women's "gatekeeping" (control over household tasks) as a barrier to their greater participation.

The greatest obstacle I came up against in spending more time with my children was their mother's gatekeeping. I was criticized alternatively between not doing enough around the house, and not doing it right. A no win situation for myself and my children... 37

Again reflecting the time use statistics, many submissions noted that the birth of a child was a critical point at which gendered patterns of unpaid work took hold. As one focus group participant said: "Before the baby was born we had fairly equal sharing of housework".38

Other women noted the need to negotiate differing standards and let go of the power they exercise within the home in order to facilitate better balance in unpaid work.

My liberation lay in backing off and letting him do the unpaid work. No other woman would let her husband cut their daughters hair. He gets kids to child care: they often look awful, hair sticking up, wrong socks. But if you back off it happens.39

Towards equality in paid and unpaid work

Given the strong historical and cultural stereotypes about caring as women's work it is not surprising that men and women organise their paid and unpaid working arrangements accordingly.40 Coupled with workplace arrangements and policy levers that favour gendered caring roles adopted by men and women,41 stereotypes around caring act as strong incentives for maintaining the status quo. Yet as noted in Chapter 2 and throughout the Striking the Balance discussion paper, the individual, social and economic costs of not changing are great and affect men as much as women.

Incorporating men's perspectives and supporting men to develop capabilities in the area of unpaid work, particularly in terms of caring for children, is an important part of developing an integrated approach to paid work and care. Some submissions expressed disappointment that men's views and contributions were not adequately represented within public discussions. As one individual submission wrote:

What irks me ... is that men seem to get all of the bad press about this ... Until the debate is fairer and informed by a men's perspective, it will continue to limp along, with incremental change; women will complain and men will be silent.42

Some submissions to HREOC argued that men already do a lot of unpaid work and that the pressures of maintaining a full time work load with caring responsibilities were immense. For example:

I was a mental health community unit team-leader with responsibility for about 16 staff and 3 psychiatrists to work with. The unit was grossly under-resourced ... At the same time we had three children under nine at home, and I used to do a very fair share of house work. My wife worked part time about 15-26 hours per fortnight as a waitress. I would mind the children, give them dinner etc on weekends and evenings when my wife worked. I was studying Uni, 1-3 units per year as I desperately wanted to get out of my profession due to the combined pressures of chronic under-resourcing and complaints. I ended up not sleeping very well at all and life became a grind.43

While there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to support this view, and undoubtedly there are many men undertaking a lot of unpaid work, this view is not supported by the comprehensive time use data used throughout the Striking the Balance discussion paper. Clearly time use figures are averages and as such it is likely that there are some men who undertake a lot of unpaid work at one end of the spectrum and many more men at the other end of the spectrum who undertake very little. As noted above, men who are heavily involved in caring and other unpaid responsibilities are well placed to lead social change amongst their own networks.44

Some submissions and consultation participants highlighted the cultural barriers that men face in developing the capacity to care for young children in particular.45 One focus group participant noted in relation to her partner that:

He... supervises her play and likes looking after her when I'm not home. He would rather take care of her than have my mum take care of her. He didn't like looking after her when she was a baby but now I realize that was because he was frightened he might do something wrong.46

Encouraging men to be involved in sharing care right from the beginning of children's lives is an important part of developing an inclusive response to the challenges of combining paid work and family/carer responsibilities. Evidence to HREOC demonstrated that for some families, this meant letting go of the belief that the caring role "belongs" women, an open negotiation about the roles and responsibilities that best suit the family's circumstance and active support for men to be engaged in child rearing tasks to encourage a sense of ownership of this work. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution for families, introducing the discussion and addressing any issues early in relationship formation and at critical transition points is an important step for making sure assumptions and expectations are well aligned.

These discussions could be supported by the community awareness and education campaigns discussed at later in this chapter.47

5.5 Sharing care

Those families that have managed to realise their goal of sharing both paid work and unpaid care have been very positive about their experience. For example, one father wrote:

I'm a part-time parent, I work 3 days a week, and my daughter's mother also works a three day week as well ... I want to encourage men to ask for sharing the load' and also sharing the fun' too! Spending time with my young daughter is great! No father should miss out on this time.48

A mother who participated in a HREOC consultation said:

In our family, I've recently returned back into the work force and we've worked it so that my husband works 12 days a month and I work 11 days a month. We made the decision to do with fewer material things but to spend more time together as a family... We afford the mortgage because we decided to do without other stuff. He initially went to 4 days, and then said he would go to 3 days for a couple of years until the boys went to school and no one at his work seemed to mind. We have 3 year old twins.

To support these kinds of sharing care in the home, we need to support structural change. Obviously one of the main arenas in which shared care can be supported is the workplace, discussed in sections 4.6-4.8 of Chapter 4. HREOC had heard of men who have wanted to take on a greater role in caring for their children but were unable to find flexible paid work.50

Another of the practical barriers to sharing care that was identified to HREOC was the lack of father-friendly public spaces that facilitate men's role as primary carers of their children. A common complaint was in relation to a lack of public parents' rooms where fathers feel welcome to take their children. As one submission noted:

The big question when looking at men doing more unpaid work is - is society ready for fathers with young children? Coming from a partnership where the father is the primary care giver I don't think society is. For example while some places do have parent rooms, fathers are not very often catered for. What will my partner do once our daughter is a little bit older, say five years old, needs to go to the toilet and there is no parent room?51

A submission from a father undertaking full time care of his child and management of the household also mentioned this barrier along with a litany of other practical and social difficulties:

...later on in our married life, I took up the reigns [sic] of looking after the family and home while she took up an 18 month learning opportunity. Apart from the inevitable disasters on the home front with an inexperienced dad at the fore (I could write a book), it was humbling and at times humiliating to be a stay at home father. I found my self socially isolated and lonely. Normal social occasions that are available for mums, such as tennis mornings, church get togethers, and craft mornings were not available to me. I was asked not to come or was still as isolated as before, with the mums at one end of the room and I stuck at the other. Many people had significant problems with me being a stay at home dad. Basket ball or squash mornings didn't have childcare available for the men's comps. The local mums would stay away because they were afraid of gossip etc. Many times I have had to change nappies in various places when there was a family room available but others strongly indicated that this was not the place for a guy.52

These environmental and workplace factors are reinforced by the often unspoken social attitudes about gender and care that pervade everyday consciousness and practices. A number of submissions commented on the effects of social attitudes and the way they can mitigate against sharing care.53 For example, one consultation participant noted that "Many [union] members are saying it is ok if you are a single mum but if you are a single dad there is this attitude: 'What are you looking after kids for?'".54 Others noted that the social attitudes discouraging sharing care can be deeply ingrained, even among those people who are trying to challenge them.

There is still a lot of community bias about fathers being involved. The number of men who call themselves Mr Mom' or say I'm babysitting the kids'! That is from the men themselves let alone anyone else.55

While women's responsibility for the bulk of caring tasks represents a cost to women in terms of time, energy and missed opportunities outside the home, for men it represents a loss of opportunities to enjoy family time and to bond with their children. Those men who separate from their partners may find that maintaining a role in their children's lives is complicated by the limits to their involvement before separation.56 HREOC has heard evidence that men are becoming aware of the potential cost to familial relationships of a limited caring role.

Many men know that if they don't get involved in the family, the relationship will end in separation.57

In combating these attitudes, education plays an essential role, particularly in terms of positive role modelling.

There is a place for awareness raising at a lot of levels. Pro fathering and pro sharing family roles, where you see couples working together. There needs to be awareness of it operating. And the benefits of doing that.58

Role modelling in the home and in the practices of ordinary families is likely to have a positive effect beyond the capacity of formal education campaigns and programs. As a consultation participant noted: "Role modelling can have an impact - the more men doing the primary care the more they see it as ok to do."59 The cumulative effect of greater numbers of men engaging in unpaid work, particularly that undertaken in public, is likely to change gendered caring stereotypes over time if combined with other structural and cultural changes outlined in this paper.

5.6 Distributing household tasks fairly

As noted above, the way that men and women divide up household tasks can have a long term impact on their roles as parents and paid workers.

As discussed in the Striking the Balance discussion paper, it is not only the amount of unpaid work that differs for men and women, it is the kinds of tasks that men and women undertake.60 For example, time use statistics show that women tend to do more of the daily household tasks that cannot be put off such as food preparation and clean up, while men tend to more of the less frequent tasks, such as lawn mowing.61 Men are also less likely to be involved in physical caring tasks such as bathing and feeding of children, which need to be performed daily, and more likely to be involved in discretionary tasks such playing with or talking to children.62

However there is time use data that shows that men undertake unpaid work at greater levels on weekends.63 This indicates that men want to be more involved and will be at times when they are less likely to be undertaking paid work or commuting.64

Some submissions and comments provided to HREOC highlighted different parenting styles and some argued that men have a particular style of parenting that revolves around activities such as playing.65 While play is clearly very important for children both developmentally66 and in terms of bonding with parents, the result is that the bulk of the necessary household tasks often remain with the mother.67

While men continue to largely perform household and caring tasks that are sporadic or discretionary, such as garden maintenance or playing with children, they are free to take up other work and leisure opportunities without too much disruption to the family. As long as women retain ultimate responsibility for the house and care arrangements, and while they perform the daily and necessary household tasks, such as cooking and cleaning, their capacity to undertake paid work or to have a healthy paid work and family/care balance with sufficient rest and leisure will be compromised.68 A comment from a submission summed up the difference and its emotive effect as many women perceive it.

The question for me personally is why in our household, I feel guilty if I am away from family, whereas my husband merely misses the family. This seems to be a recurring theme amongst my friends. Their partners are involved, committed, caring, supportive with children, and they help. But they don't take the responsibility. None of us are entirely sure why that is.69

Distributing household and caring tasks more evenly can be a challenging endeavour for families for a range of reasons, including reasons not entirely under their control. A submission from the Women's Electoral Lobby Australia highlights some of the issues involved in trying to share caring and other household tasks.

Even where care is shared between parents on a fairly equitable time basis after separation, there is anecdotal evidence that the management of the tasks and therefore the primary responsibilities for their completion rests with the mother. This is based on the can I help with' model of sharing rather than the true shared responsibilities for the role not just the tasks ... Men may find greater commitment to the domestic daily tasks of parenthood both a pleasure and a threat. They have to accommodate to big changes in their relationships, and shifts in their financial resources. Some want to take active roles in care but find that this is not seen by workmates and managers as a role they approve of. They may find, like some women in similar situations, that they are faced with workplace demands that paid jobs are deemed be their priority around which they fit their other requirements. They may also find their definitions of sharing not the same as their partners. Some women who take time out and diminish their career options because they put mothering first, may be unprepared to share the tasks and responsibilities. This may be more acute where men may want to take on the pleasant care tasks but not the less pleasant ones eg the cleaning and the nappies, as is shown in some time use studies.70

For men to take ownership of household and caring work rather than just to "help out", particularly in terms of the time-critical tasks that need to be done and which most affect decisions about workforce participation, change is required in a number of key areas, such as workforce structures and cultures, as discussed above.71 Community awareness raising and educational activities, as discussed later in this chapter, are also key supports that will equip men with competency, confidence and sense of entitlement for the tasks of caring and household management. In a practical sense this could mean attending parenting classes either with partners or separately, reading parenting materials, joining a local parenting support or fathers group, or developing relationships with other people in their children's lives (such as schools, friends and teachers). For couples, equipping and supporting men to share care may also mean negotiating standards for housework and scheduling time for fathers to be alone with children so that they can take charge of the role. For women, as noted earlier, this may involve a process of letting go of some domestic control. As one consultation participant who works with parents explained:

The primary issue that the mothers come in with is control. How do I control the kids? How do I control him? You have to educate mums to let go of control of the kids and the household. 72

Sharing care well also means considering the spread of unpaid and paid work across the life cycle. Considered across the life course, fairness for some families may mean that care is undertaken full time by one parent for a particular amount of time and by another parent for another amount of time, or with various combinations across the course of parenting. For many couple families, especially those who cannot afford to have both parents out of the workforce for long, it may be that having the female partner engaged full time in caring in the early period of children's lives is the most appropriate decision. As a submission from the Women's Action Alliance pointed out, equality in paid and unpaid work does not necessarily mean equal amounts at all times.

Family life is a partnership between parents. The best functioning families tend to think of the welfare of the family unit as a whole, rather than equal divisions of labour. This will mean that at various times in the life of the family one or other parent may do more or less unpaid work.73

However, decisions about who provides the most care in the early period of children's lives should ideally not prevent one parent from being involved in care or prevent them from taking on greater caring responsibilities at other times. A true partnership approach to parenting and other care responsibilities must aim for maximising choice and opportunity for both women and men, whether this is the choice to care, the choice to participate in paid work or combinations of both. Decisions about sharing care should also aim to incorporate any current and (where predictable) likely future caring responsibilities across the life course to include elder care or care for people with disability, as discussed below.

5.7 Caring for people beyond the home

With increasing numbers of single person households it is important to consider these issues outside of "the home" as a distinct unit and consider family and other forms of care across households and within communities.74 Demographic changes such as fertility rates below replacement rates will mean that many more people will not have family members living with them as they age. Providing support and care for people outside of one's home is likely to become a larger part of what we consider to be family and carer responsibilities. In this respect family and carer responsibilities in future may become more like those of Indigenous family networks, same-sex networks and extended family networks in many culturally and linguistically diverse communities where the concept of care is often considered in a broader sense beyond the nuclear family structure.75 Grandparents and aunties, for example, often play a large role in caring for relatives in these families. Step and blended families may also have a broader approach to sharing care.

This point also raises the need to consider care as a community responsibility, rather than simply that of individual households. Stronger community networks, as discussed in Chapter 9, are needed if all people are to be adequately cared for as cities expand and the population ages. This is particularly important for elder care, as many older people are choosing and often encouraged through aged care policies, to remain in their own homes as they age.76

As with caring for children, currently it is women who take most responsibility for elder care, and the statistics cited in the Striking the Balance discussion paper are backed up by HREOC's consultations with the community.77 One focus group participant described her experience as the primary carer for her mother.

I was looking after my mother for a year, after my father died. My two brothers didn't help look after mum. One brother was overseas and the other brother would visit once a month or call me to go around and see her.78

Unlike parenting responsibilities, elder care responsibilities can be much more sporadic and unpredictable, and may fall to one family member regardless of choice or preference.79 As one focus group participant noted:

I've got an elderly mum - my husband doesn't get on with her so it's just me. I organise things for her, sometimes she needs help with translation. Her needs are sporadic. I probably spend 2-3 hours a week with mum.80

Similarly the care needs of people with disability may differ according to the type of disability or condition. Caring for people with mental health conditions, for example, may also involve sporadic and unpredictable needs for care.81 Further, a more mobile population means caring responsibilities may not be able to be spread across siblings or other family members.

It is also likely that with smaller families and greater labour market participation by women, particularly those in the "mid-life" age groups (those aged between 45 and 54), that more male family members will be required to take on responsibilities to care for older people and people with disability who require care.

Men already undertake a significant amount of care for their spouses as they age.82 Like shared parenting care, gendered stereotypes along with other barriers can function to work against a fair spread of other family and carer responsibilities. However HREOC has also heard examples of shared elder care, particularly among couples. For example, one focus group participant said:

My father-in-law needs extra care, my husband takes him to appointments. When I was on holidays I looked after his post-op stuff. I've taken time off work to look after my mum. He (husband) helps out with my mum, yes.83

As with negotiating unpaid care for children and associated household work, caring for ageing relatives and family members with disability should also be factored into household discussions about balancing paid work with family and carer responsibilities.

5.8 Education and cultural change

Many submissions raised cultural change as a major influence on men and women's ability to reconcile their paid work and family/carer responsibilities. Attitudes and behaviours towards caring, such as the perception that it is only women who need to balance paid work and family obligations, are often the result of unquestioned gender assumptions that become entrenched at an early age and need to be actively challenged if they are not to form artificial barriers to balancing paid work and family life.

Gender equality taught in schools and in the community

While HREOC's consultations with the public revealed much faith in generational change, research has shown that despite growing attitudinal change in favour of egalitarian arrangements, behaviours are much harder to shift.84 Despite decades of social change where women have increasingly entered paid work and more recent signs of men's greater involvement with their families, cultural stereotypes still exist. As some submissions argued, these stereotypes work against increasing men's involvement in family and carer responsibilities.85

A number of submissions argued for accelerating the pace of cultural change by educating children and young people about the importance of gender equality in unpaid work.86 Some submissions proposed incorporating education about household skills and the work that caring entails for both men and women into high school curricula.

A submission from Business and Professional Women Australia argued:

This issue affects everyone - male and female and future generations. There should be an education component in schools for both males and females on the amount of work it takes to do the housework, cook, shop, care for family members such as young children and ageing parents."87

The Queensland Government wrote:

Integrating household' skill development into the high-school curriculum may also be another way of helping to change gender inequity. Skills such as basic cooking, cleaning, washing and home maintenance tasks could facilitate a greater sharing of unpaid work.88

Other submissions discussed the importance of broader awareness raising campaigns at national and community levels.89

The Premier's Council for Women (SA) wrote:

A national education and awareness raising campaign would enable a new culture of gender equity in caring to be publicly discussed.90


That HREOC develop education materials for use in high schools around the country about sharing care and other unpaid work. 

Specific campaigns targeting men were also advocated as ways of breaking down stereotypical expectations and providing support for men to take on caring roles. A submission from mensplace noted the lack of programs that support men to adopt caring roles in the face of the culturally reinforced role of the male breadwinner.

Historically, the dominant role of fathers in our society is as providers or breadwinners'. Significant shifts in society have occurred which have mainly focussed on supporting women's greater participation in the workforce. In Australia relatively few initiatives have attempted to directly support men towards change in their role towards a more balanced lifestyle where work/providing is more evenly matched with other functions (nurturing/care).91

The YWCA Australia wrote:

To address the inequality in expectations between men and women, YWCA Australia encourages HREOC to recommend measures that go beyond mere gender mainstreaming to seeking gender equitable outcomes and creating an environment of social change where men and women play equal roles in paid and unpaid work. This includes providing incentives to men to spend more time on their family, and less on work. These could include... provision of training and community education programs educating men on their roles and responsibilities as caregivers and legal guardians of children...92

Families Australia suggested a campaign that targets fathers in paid work.

That a community based awareness campaign be organised that focuses on the needs and aspirations of working fathers, centred on a Daddy Go Home On Time Day' or message (in 2003, the Australia Institute sponsored a National Go Home on Time Day' on April 19).93

Engaging men in the work of progressing gender equality has been identified as critical at international and national levels, with Ministerial support for more work in this area.94 Educating young people and other members of the community about gender equality through shared participation in caring work would be an appropriate intervention to support and foster positive attitudinal and behavioural change. A national awareness raising campaign is one option that could be led by Australian and/or State and Territory governments. Such a campaign could be designed to operate at national and local levels, and include the use of leaning modules for schools.

An educational campaign could draw on the previous work of the Australian Government in the "Sharing the Load" campaign which formed part of Australia's response to the ratification of ILO Convention 156 on family responsibilities.95 The campaign included a range of educational material and resources for families to balance their responsibilities in the home with their paid work. An awareness raising campaign could also draw on successful international campaigns that have worked to dismantle negative gender roles, some of which have included male-specific elements.96 Targeting men with initiatives that promote valuing men as carers and a partnership or co-parenting approach to care of children have been recommended to HREOC as a useful way forward.97


That the Australian Government fund a national multi-media community awareness campaign about workers with family/carer responsibilities, including the diversity of workers and families and with a targeted component for men with family/carer responsibilities.

Relationship and parenting education

A number of submissions and consultations raised the need for greater provision of relationship and parenting education to assist men and women to negotiate shared paid work and care.

A submission from the Women's Electoral Lobby Australia pointed to a general lack of community support for childrearing,98 while others noted a particular need for education and service provision for new parents.

There needs to be a core curriculum for antenatal and parenting classes that includes information, strategies and links to relevant services that can assist individuals if they encounter difficulties traversing the kinds of issues identified by transition to parenthood' ... 99

The Women's Action Alliance wrote:

The introduction of more universal parenting education aimed at the first time parents could be vehicle for discussing issues pertaining to caring of children and the division of domestic duties.100

Educating parents about parenting and domestic tasks could also include information about family-friendly workplace arrangements, and link in with current or additional workplace programs. As a submission from Families Australia argued:

Evidence suggests that there is a lack of community awareness of family-friendly work options. There is scope for initiatives to strengthen the links between workplaces and family support services. Such information could be included, for example, in antenatal and parenting information programs. At the same time the concerns of parents about how to improve relationships with their children may be addressed through workplace-based programs. Some employers already provide this.101

Families Australia also recommended that"Government, business, unions and the community sector develop a work and parenting information strategy, to include information about family-friendly work options and tips on how to minimise negative spillover' from work to family relationships".102

Other submissions stressed the importance of education and awareness raising programs and supports for men as parents. A submission from mensplace argued for better provision of training and support for men and women but with an inclusive, father-friendly approach.

Create and improve training and education programmes to enhance awareness and knowledge among men and women on their roles as parents, legal guardians and caregivers and the importance of sharing family responsibilities, and include fathers as well as mothers in programmes that teach infant child care development.103

Targeting men as carers through specific educational and support programs is crucial as a way of shifting cultural barriers to men's involvement with family/carer responsibilities. It is also important to incorporate men's role as carers into existing policy frameworks and initiatives, such as those developed under the Parenting Information Project, which has produced a website with specific information for men as well as diverse groups of parents and grandparents.104 Part of this mainstreaming is the development of existing family services and programs so that they adequately address the needs of men as carers. This work is currently underway through various programs funded by Australian and State/Territory governments,105 but could be developed further and with explicit reference to gender equality principles.

A submission from Andrew King argued that promotion of current family relationship services requires improvement in order to reach men.

... there is still a strong belief that men do not ask for help but fix themselves. Promotion of men and family relationship services still needs improvement as many men view the word counselling' as a punitive response for workplace misdemeanours (Nixon, 1999). It is still common for men to remark I never thought such services existed' when they first come into contact with M&FR [Men and Family Relationships] programs.106

The men's community resource service mensplace suggested five related objectives for developing support for men in their role as fathers and as partners in working towards gender equality in caring responsibilities:

  1. Expanding cultural scenarios of responsible fatherhood
  2. Facilitating paternal identity and responsible fatherhood in transitional periods
  3. Facilitating fathers' direct attachment to their children
  4. Reconceptualizing divorce and co-parental relations
  5. Promoting men's greater sensitivity to children107

Building on work currently underway, these objectives could be incorporated into a broader community awareness raising campaign as part of a national strategy to increase men's involvement in families as carers. This strategy could be developed as part of a broader policy of shared work - valued care, including development of the evidence base around men and caring relationships and good practice principles for working with men in caring roles. This work could build on current initiatives such as the recently developed "National Father-Inclusive Practice Framework".108 Such a strategy could also extend to other forms of care giving in families, such as elder care, and include specific education and support at critical moments as discussed below.


That the Australian Government conduct an audit of Commonwealth, State and Territory programs in family and health services to assess how well they prepare families for sharing care. The audit should include an assessment of current mainstream antenatal and early parenting programs and programs designed for separated fathers in order to identify best practice methods of increasing the engagement of fathers in care work.

Community education at critical and transitional points

There appear to be times in the life cycle when gendered caring arrangements are particularly apparent and have more of an impact on people's lives as they negotiate their paid work and care arrangements. HREOC's consultations and focus groups with parents have indicated a particular need for community education at critical or transitional points such as the birth of a first child or marital separation as a way of involving men in caring responsibilities.109

Education and awareness raising for men so that they can be intimately involved in parenting infants is widely regarded as important for facilitating father involvement.110 A number of submissions and consultation participants noted the need for prenatal classes for men as well as women and early parenting support as ways of breaking down cultural and institutional resistance to men's "hands on" involvement in child rearing.111

A submission from UnitingCare Burnside argued that:

Traditionally men have not been seen as the primary caregiver for children. In order for men to become more actively involved in unpaid work and child rearing in particular they require support and training.112

A submission from mensplace argued that the birth of a child is an important transition point for men and a window for facilitating their involvement in parenting.

The transition to fatherhood is also a significant opportunity for engagement. Men often are more open to intervention and receptive to new ideas at this time in their lives. Linkages with health services in the antenatal education area should be explored for opportunities to engage young fathers in relationship education programs.113

Education for fathers should also include support for men so that they can support their partners at times when the demand for parental care is high. A submission from Paul Whyte highlighted the strain that parenting can place on relationships between men and women.

Mothers often enter a crisis where much of their life dreams and goals may be lost to the endless housework and new parenting ... I have seen men join my network on the edge of divorce due to the resentment of the mum at being forced into the care-taking role. When he has been listened to about all that happened to him as a result, and the part he can take to restoring the balance in the care-taking work, the mum is greatly relieved that her man could help! ... While there are many things that make family life difficult that dynamic where dad needs help so he can really help mum is all to[o] common."114

The time around the birth of a child has been identified as an important opportunity for men to re-evaluate their own experiences of being parented.

Some men identify the reason for attend[ing] a fathering program is because they want to father their children differently to how they were fathered. The birth of a child is now a wake-up call' for many men and an opportunity for them to review the choices they make in life and provides the motivation to develop stronger relationships.115

As such, the birth of a child is a time when stereotypes about gender roles and parenting can be positively challenged through parenting and relationship programs devised for men. While there are a variety of programs, support groups and training courses for generalised service practitioners currently operating in this area, they are by no means expansive and tend to be directed towards disadvantaged groups of fathers as opposed to fathers in general.116

Some programs such as the Adelaide based Fatherhood Support Project117 have already demonstrated the opportunity to engage successfully with men before the birth of their child. This program links in with men who have attended an antenatal class at their local hospital and connects them with groups held for men in the post natal ward where "new dads" can join with "dads to be" to discuss early parenting, the role of fathers and what new born babies are like. Such current programs and initiatives could be expanded as part of a wider campaign for increasing men's involvement in care giving, and include a greater focus on combining parenting with paid work and negotiating shared care and associated unpaid work within relationships.

Relationship breakdown is another period in men's lives that has been identified as a transition point for men. HREOC has received many submissions from men experiencing difficulties with parenting after separation, as well as evidence from consultations with service providers working with men.118

A submission from Relationships Australia noted:

A majority of non-resident fathers want to spend more time with their children and a large number of non-resident mothers also support this. However, the reality is that the greater value that the labour market places on the father's uninterrupted career makes the ideal of such a balancing out of roles in practice difficult to achieve.119

A submission from the Men's Information and Support Centre noted that paid work and care arrangements in place prior to separation often mean that fathers' opportunities to spend time with their children post separation are lessened.

As the mother has commonly filled the role of primary caregiver prior to the break-up, it is most common that the children end up living permanently with her after separation, limiting the opportunity to spend time with their father, on average, to one weekend per fortnight and school holidays.120

A counsellor who works with men noted that for many men their paid work arrangements create difficulties for men's relationships with their children pre and post separation.

Men's paid work obligations have an immense effect on their relations with their children ... there's hundreds of different stories but very typically it's the truck driver driving the truck all night in the country ... he's away from home and gets into trouble with his relationship because he is not at home. Then his wife decides to break the relationship and he's destroyed because he doesn't have relationship with his children.121

Other submissions and consultations highlighted separation as a window for men to create positive changes in their family relationships, noting that a crisis point can precipitate greater interest in and involvement in fathering.122 A submission from mensplace noted that:

In cases where fathers' direct attachment to their children has been low prior to separation, it is often notable that there is a new desire to get more involved directly with their children following separation. Rather than treat all such interests with suspicion, or dismissing those out of hand, strategies to support this new desire should be developed and piloted, with due regard to the safety and wellbeing of all concerned.123

Submissions highlighted the value of and continuing need for support services for men as parents, particularly following separation or other crisis points.124 A submission from Andrew King describes some of the challenges of providing these services to men, noting that:

Until recently, it was not until men approached the end of their life, that they often expressed regret for spending too much time at work and not enough time with their family. This reflection is still experienced today, as many men only start talking about the importance of their family relationships after the crisis has occurred, such as family separation.125

HREOC has heard claims of cultural and institutional barriers to men's involvement in child rearing post-separation, including difficulties with government services that do not easily recognise men as primary carers of children.126 One submission notes that men from disadvantaged groups often feel disempowered by their interaction with service providers in addition to other factors.

The range of disempowering experiences men report is broad. They may relate more to a man's status as part of a disadvantaged group, to personal characteristics or to circumstances specific to certain settings ... Many men report continuous negative portrayal of men in the media as contributing to their disempowerment. Recent research into men's attitudes to seeking help from community service agencies indicates some men think there is an anti-men bias in community services generally.127

Consultations and submissions also revealed dissatisfaction with cultural imagery that portrays fathers as either incompetent in the home or only as breadwinners, and with corresponding community views about father involvement.128 Consultations with men made particular mention of the barriers to caring that separated working class men face in going against traditional stereotypes of masculinity which frame men only as breadwinners.129

A national awareness raising campaign could incorporate images of men as carers, with a particular focus on men in traditionally masculine industries and occupations. This broad approach to cultural change would complement and reinforce existing efforts underway within individual agencies to improve their responsiveness to male clients and encourage cultural change within other agencies.130 Increasing numbers of men sharing care and providing full residential care of their children after separation mean that ensuring that mainstream parenting services respond to men's needs as primary carers will become even more important for assisting fathers and breaking down gendered stereotypes of caring.131

These issues point to the need for better support for coupled parents negotiating their paid work and care arrangements prior to separation, when gendered patterns of care are initially set in place. While many participants in HREOC consultations mentioned economic considerations as the main driver for deciding how or whether care is shared between couples, others mentioned cultural barriers to men's greater participation such as perceptions about men's capacity to care.132 As one focus group participant put it:

Even though I worked part time I never went to playgroup; that is seen as the female domain. You take the kids up to the community health centre and they look at you funny.133

Others spoke of the lack of discussion and conscious decision-making within families about paid work and care decisions. For example, in relation to organising unpaid household work, a female focus group participant said:

There are certain things I like him not to try to do because he can't do it... I give the orders - I don't know why, never thought of it before.134

HREOC has also heard of the strain that parenting and the division of paid and unpaid work puts on relationships between men and women.135 A male focus group participant said in relation to unpaid work:

Sandra's standards are higher than mine so I stay out of it - I just cop the abuse for not doing it. Oh, on a monthly basis I guess we might fight about the housework. Or when we have visitors.136

This impact of the tension between paid work and family on relationships between men and women is one which has been explored in a number of recent Australian books.137 As Alison Osbourne writes in her book The Post Baby Conversation: What new parents needs to say to each other:

This divergence in the lives of men and women post-baby and the profound changes in the relationship are unexpected. Very few couples realise what is happening and proactively talk and listen before things boil over. Mostly, what happens is ongoing and escalating frustration, anger and resentment. The lack of understanding that begins as a small flicker when a woman gets pregnant can escalate to a frightening rage and leave the couple at war for months, or years.138

Male focus group participants spoke to HREOC about the impact that their paid work away from the home has on their relationship with their wife and children.

Most drive-in drive-out employees have pretty shaky relationships. Living apart has to put a big strain on [the relationship].139

I do two to five weeks [at work], you come home and you are like a visitor and for a couple of days you feel your way around... home is an unreal place when you come back and the responsibility is left to the woman whilst you are away. It throws a lot back on their plate that they otherwise might not ordinarily have dealt with.140

A service provider working with men noted that:

While they [parents] might negotiate initially there is a lack of renegotiation later down the track - the initial decision [about who will stay at home and who will work] is made quite naively. This comes up frequently. People tend not to revisit the decision until it reaches crisis point.141

Another service provider described the effect of lack of communication about sharing unpaid work:

Relationship breakdown is very typical of what we get [at our organisation]... people come in to see us with difficulties in their relationship - and there is a lot of separation that goes on - the mantra is I've had enough'. It can mean I've had enough of having to do everything... of him working 6 days a week and then taking Sunday off and go[ing] fishing'. Some men shrug it off, some say they didn't know there was a problem. The I've had enough' is also I've had enough of trying to communicate this'... About 80 per cent of people that come to counselling come too late so you end up with separation counselling.142

Comments such as these indicate a need to educate and raise awareness among couples early in relationship formation so that ideas for sharing paid work and care can be discussed openly rather than assumed. Opportunities for this exist with the new Family Relationship Centres that have been established throughout 2006 as part of the Australian Government's family law reforms.143 In addition to the types of assistance that are provided for families and separating couples, these centres could serve as information hubs for newly partnered couples to find out about options for managing their paid work and care arrangements, and for prospective parents to receive information about sharing parental care and other unpaid responsibilities. Other community services could also be engaged in this task as part of a broader community education campaign.


That the Australian Government fund the development of resources to assist newly partnered couples, and in particular prospective and new parents, to consider options and discuss arrangements for sharing care. These resources should be distributed through Family Relationship Centres and relevant community organisations.

Similarly, as elder care responsibilities increase as the same time as women and men are increasing the length of their working lives, there will be a pressing need to discuss arrangements for sharing other forms of care among men and women in families. As noted in the Striking the Balance discussion paper, currently women and particularly daughters provide the overwhelming amount of informal care. For caring beyond parenting, greater community support will be needed, including measures to encourage contact with elder care and disability support groups and networks, as discussed in Chapter 8.

5.9 Conclusion

Arrangements for managing paid work and family and carer responsibilities do not arise within in a cultural vacuum. Social changes such as greater workforce participation of women and rising interest in men's involvement in caring for children do not necessarily bring with them the education and community support needed to create real choice for men and women with caring responsibilities. Education and awareness raising activities in schools through gender equality education would be a way of strengthening generational shifts in attitudes to men and women's roles in families. These activities could be linked with a national campaign that works in unison with legislative, workplace and policy supports for a shared work - valued care approach. Community-based programs for men and women at transitional times in the life cycle would further contribute to the cultural and institutional change that is needed to support a shared work - valued care approach. Targeted programs and services that help break down the barriers to men's participation in caring work could be expanded and incorporate gender equality principles, in addition to mainstreaming a father-friendly approach within existing services.


[1] Ninety percent of Australian men and women agree that a father should be as heavily involved in the care of his children as the mother: Ann Evans and Edith Gray "What makes an Australian family?" in Shaun Wilson, Gabrielle Meagher, Rachel Gibson, David Denemark and Mark Western (eds) Australian Social Attitudes: The first report UNSW Press Sydney 2005, pp 12-29 at p 27.

[2] See Striking the Balance discussion paper, Chapter 3 and Chapter 4.

[3] See HILDA data Wave 1 analysis conducted by Janeen Baxter, Belinda Hewitt and Mark Western "Post Familial Families and the Domestic Division of Labor" (2005) 36 Journal of Comparative Family Studies 4 Table 2, p 27 and discussed in Striking the Balance discussion paper, Chapter 3.

[4] See discussion in Striking the Balance discussion paper, pp 36-37.

[5] See discussion in Striking the Balance discussion paper, p 57 and passim.

[6] See discussion in Striking the Balance discussion paper, pp 63-65. See also Relationships Australia 2006 Relationship Indicators Survey Canberra 2006, p 9.

[7] These barriers are discussed throughout this chapter.

[8] Community consultation, Sydney, 9 November 2005. Similar views were also expressed in HREOC Focus group 10, August 2005; and Union consultation, Canberra, 5 September 2005.

[9] HREOC Focus group 16, January 2006.

[10] HREOC Focus group 16, January 2006.

[11] Community consultation, Sydney, 9 November 2005.

[12] Community consultation, Sydney, 9 November 2005.

[13] This point is also made by mensplace, Submission 124.

[14] Families Australia, Submission 50, p 6.

[15] Community consultation, Melbourne, 17 August 2005.

[16] Andrew King, Submission 173.

[17] See further discussion in Chapter 2, section 2.3 and throughout Chapter 9.

[18] See Striking the Balance discussion paper, pp 111-115.

[19] See, for example, Rebecca Fowles, Submission 37; COTA National Seniors Partnership, Submission 40, passim; David Wilkes, Submission 68; and Shop Distributive and Allied Employees' Association, Submission 71, p 26, p 27 and p 29.

[20] Rebecca Fowles, Submission 37.

[21] David Wilkes, Submission 68.

[22] See, for example, Rebecca Fowles, Submission 37; UnitingCare Burnside, Submission 100, p 3; Marty Grace, Mary Leahy & James Doughney, Submission 114, p 4; and mensplace, Submission 124.

[23] Australian Baha'i Community, Submission 91, p 8.

[24] See, for example, COTA National Seniors Partnership, Submission 40, p 4; National Carers Coalition, Submission 177; and Attachment 1, p 8; Submission; Australian Education Union, Submission 119, p 15; and Shop Distributive and Allied Employees' Association, Submission 71, p 27. See also Chapter 8, section 8.3.

[25] See Striking the Balance discussion paper, pp 53-54.

[26] Michael Bittman and Jocelyn Pixley The Double Life of the Family Allen and Unwin St Leonards 1997, p 145. See also other research cited in Striking the Balance discussion paper pp 53-54 and Ann Evans and Edith Gray "What makes an Australian family?" in Shaun Wilson, Gabrielle Meagher, Rachel Gibson, David Denemark and Mark Western (eds) Australian Social Attitudes: The first report UNSW Press Sydney 2005, pp 12-29 at p 27.

[27] See, for example, YWCA Australia, Submission 93; Third Year Honours Students, Work and Organisational Studies, School of Business, University of Sydney, Submission 128; and Chilla Bulbeck "The Mighty Pillar of the Family': Young people's attitudes to household gender arrangements in the Asia-Pacific" (2005) 12 Gender, Work and Organization 1, pp 14-31.

[28] YWCA Australia, Submission 93.

[29] Third Year Honours Students ,Work and Organisational Studies, School of Business, University of Sydney, Submission 128, p 27.

[30] ibid, p 49.

[31] Julie Blyth, Submission 13, p 1.

[32] ibid, p 4.

[33] Emma Hawkes, Submission 20.

[34] Government of Western Australia, Submission 126, p 3.

[35] Men's Information and Support Centre, Submission 81, p 2.

[36] HREOC Focus group 2, February 2005 and HREOC Focus group 3, February 2005. See also Angela Campbell, Submission 156.

[37] Maurice Mok, Submission 2.

[38] HREOC Focus group 2, February 2005.

[39] HREOC Focus group 6, February 2005.

[40] See discussion in section 5.8.

[41] These are discussed throughout Chapter 4 and Chapter 6.

[42] Brett Goyne, Submission 51.

[43] Brett Goyne, Submission 51.

[44] See section 5.2 and discussion at 4.8 in Chapter 4.

[45] Community consultation, Melbourne, 17 August 2005; HREOC Focus group 2, February 2006; Women's Electoral Lobby Australia, Submission 115, p 3; Centre for Women's Studies and Gender Research, Monash University Submission 46, p 4; Phil Jones, Submission 4, p 1; and Joan Garvan, Submission 30, p 1.

[46] HREOC Focus group 2, February 2006.

[47] See also discussions of educational activities in Chapter 3 and Chapter 4.

[48] Phil Jones, Submission 4.

[49] Community consultation, Darwin, 22 September 2005.

[50] HREOC Focus group 10, August 2005. See also discussion throughout Chapter 4.

[51] Rebecca Fowles, Submission 37.

[52] Bob Hodgson, Submission 58.

[53] See, for example, Rebecca Fowles, Submission 37; Joan Garvan, Submission 30, p 1; and David Wilkes, Submission 68.

[54] Union consultation, Canberra, 5 September 2005.

[55] Community consultation, Sydney, 9 November 2005.

[56] This point is discussed in the Striking the Balance discussion paper, pp 64-65.

[57]Community consultation, Sydney, 9 November 2005.

[58] Community consultation, Sydney, 9 November 2005. See also Country Women's Association of NSW, Submission 73, p 2. See also section 5.8 for a discussion of community education and awareness raising campaigns.

[59] Community consultation, Hobart, 11 August 2005.

[60] See overview and discussion of time use statistics in the Striking the Balance discussion paper, pp 29-33.

[61] See Michael Bittman and Jocelyn Pixley The Double Life of the Family Allen and Unwin St Leonards 1997, pp 97-101 and Lyn Craig "Does Father Care Mean Fathers Share? A comparison of how mothers and fathers in intact families spend time with children" (2006) 20 Gender and Society 20 2, pp 259-281.

[62] See Striking the Balance discussion paper, pp 32-33 and Lyn Craig "Does Father Care Mean Fathers Share? A comparison of how mothers and fathers in intact families spend time with children" (2006) 20 Gender and Society 20 2, pp 259-281.

[63] See Lyn Craig The Hidden Cost of Parenthood: The impact of children on adult time PhD Thesis School of Social Science and Policy University of New South Wales 2004, p 179

[64] See discussion throughout Chapter 4 of workplace barriers to shared care and discussion of commuting times in Chapter 9 (section 9.2).

[65] See Maurice Mok, Submission 2; Community consultation, Melbourne, 17 August 2005; and Community consultation, Sydney, 9 November 2005.

[66] See James Johnson, James Christie and Thomas Yawkey Play and early childhood development Longman New York 1999, pp 25-52.

[67] See Striking the Balance discussion paper, p 26 and p 32 for further discussion on this point.

[68] See Striking the Balance discussion paper, p 33.

[69] Natalie Smith, Submission 43, p 1. This point was also raised in HREOC Focus group 2, February 2005 and HREOC Focus group 10, August 2005.

[70] Women's Electoral Lobby Australia, Submission 115, p 11.

[71] See discussion throughout Chapter 4.

[72] Community consultation, Sydney, 9 November 2005.

[73] Women's Action Alliance, Submission 85, p 11.

[74] See ABS Household and Family projections, Australia 2001 - 2026 2004 Cat No 3236.0 p 1 and ABS Year Book Australia 2006 Cat No 1301.0, pp 139-144.

[75] Community consultation, Darwin, 22 September 2005, p 7 and Anna Chapman, Submission 83, pp 5-7.

[76] See Chapter 8, and in particular, section 8.2 for discussion of aged care policies facilitating in home care for older people requiring care.

[77] See Striking the Balance discussion paper, pp 39-45.

[78] HREOC Focus group 2, February 2005.

[79] See also discussion in Chapter 4 (sections 4.5-4.7).

[80] HREOC Focus group 4, February 2005.

[81] HREOC Focus group 4, February 2005. See also Queensland Government, Submission 166, p 24.

[82] See Striking the Balance discussion paper, p 40.

[83] HREOC Focus group 4, February 2005.

[84] See discussion in Striking the Balance discussion paper, pp 111-122. See also HREOC Focus group 1, February 2005; HREOC Focus group 2, February 2005; HREOC Focus group 3, February 2005; HREOC Focus group 8, July 2005; HREOC Focus group 10, August 2005; and HREOC Focus group 11, August 2005. See also Families Australia, Submission 50, p 3.

[85] See, for example, Men's Information and Support Centre, Submission 81, p 10; mensplace, Submission 124; Australian Capital Territory Human Rights Office, Northern Territory Anti-Discrimination Commission, Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland, Equal Opportunity Commission Western Australia, and Equal Opportunity Commission of South Australia, Submission 117, p 19. See also the workplace barriers discussed in Chapter 4.

[86] See, for example, Australian Bahai Community, Submission 91, p 8; Business and Professional Women Australia, Submission 109, p 5; Queensland Government, Submission 166, p 77; and Emma Hawkes, Submission 20, p 1.

[87] Business and Professional Women Australia, Submission 109, p 5.

[88] Queensland Government, Submission 166, p 77.

[89] See, for example, Premiers Council for Women (SA), Submission 96, p 5; Queensland Government, Submission 166, p 5 and p 86; YWCA Australia, Submission 93, p 6; Australian Capital Territory Human Rights Office, Northern Territory Anti-Discrimination Commission, Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland, Equal Opportunity Commission Western Australia, and Equal Opportunity Commission of South Australia, Submission 117, p 19; and mensplace, Submission 124. Awareness raising and educational activities are also discussed at further later in this chapter.

[90] Premier's Council for Women, Submission 96, p 16.

[91] mensplace, Submission 124.

[92] YWCA Australia, Submission 93, p 6.

[93] Families Australia, Submission 50, p 7. See also discussion in Chapter 4 (section 4.8).

[94] See Queensland Government, Submission 166, p 5 and discussion in Chapter 1 (section 1.2).

[95] See Chapter 3 (section 3.2) for a discussion of ILO 156.

[96] See European Commission Farewell to the Male Breadwinner? EQUAL Policy Brief at

[97] Australian experts in children's health have highlighted the success of a Canadian campaign funded by Health Canada "My Daddy Matters Because..." (also known as the National Project Fund on Fathering at which includes national radio, television and print advertising, an online searchable user-friendly national index of father activities, services, resources, and programs and a comprehensive "Father Toolkit" that contains much of the current research and practical information to assist services to become more father-friendly: HREOC Advisory Panel member, email correspondence November 2006.

[98] Women's Electoral Lobby Australia, Submission 115, p 6.

[99] Joan Garvan, Submission 30, p 2.

[100] Women's Action Alliance, Submission 85, p 23.

[101] Families Australia, Submission 50, p 6.

[102] Families Australia, Submission 50, p 6.

[103] mensplace, Submission 124.

[104] Raising Children Network: The Australian Parenting Network (DRAFT) 2006 at This website is an outcome of the Parenting Information Project, which was funded under the Australian Government's National Agenda for Early Childhood initiative.

[105] See, for example, Paul van Ryke Valuing Men Valuing Relationships: Perspectives on masculinity, fathering and working with men and family relationships Report from the 2004 National Men and Family Relationships Forum, Family Services Australia, Relationships Australia and Catholic Welfare Australia 2004.

[106] Andrew King, Submission 173, p 1.

[107] mensplace, Submission 124.

[108] This framework has been developed by the Family Action Centre at the University of Newcastle with federal Government funding. For further information see

[109] Community consultation, Melbourne, 17 August 2005; Community consultation, Canberra, 18 August 2006; Women's Action Alliance, Submission 85, p 23; Australian Bahai Community, Submission 91, p 8; and mensplace, Submission 124.

[110] See R Fletcher, S Silberberg and R Baxter Father's access to family-related services Research Report University of Newcastle, Hunter Families First 2001 and NSW Department of Community Services, Family Action Centre 2001 passim.

[111] UnitingCare Burnside, Submission 100 and Community consultation, Melbourne, 17 August 2005.

[112] UnitingCare Burnside, Submission 100.

[113] mensplace, Submission 124.

[114] Paul Whyte, Submission 123, p 2.

[115] Andrew King, Submission 173.

[116] Many father's programs and groups are run through welfare agencies, for example, UnitingCare Burnside's New Parent Infant Network (NEWPIN) Fathers program and Anglicare Australia's Fathers and their Children program.

[117] Information on the Fatherhood Support Program can be found through the Government of South Australia's Children, Youth and Women's Health Service

[118] Confidential, Submission 130; Confidential, Submission 135; Confidential, Submission 143; Confidential, Submission 150; Confidential, Submission 151; Confidential, Submission 152; Community consultation, Melbourne, 17 August 2005; Community consultation, Sydney, 9 November 2005; and HREOC Focus group 16, January 2006.

[119] Relationships Australia Inc, Submission 111, p 6.

[120] Men's Information and Support Centre, Submission 81, p 8.

[121] Community consultation, Melbourne, 17 August 2005.

[122] Community consultation, Sydney, 9 November 2005; Andrew King, Submission 173; Paul Whyte, Submission 123; mensplace, Submission 124.

[123] mensplace, submission 124.

[124] Andrew King, Submission 173; Paul Whyte, Submission 123; mensplace, Submission 124.

[125] Andrew King, Submission 173.

[126] HREOC Focus group 16, January 2006; Lone Fathers Association Australia, Submission 19, passim; Confidential Submission 48; and Margaret Williams, Submission 56, p 1.

[127] See mensplace, Submission 124.

[128] Community consultation, Sydney, 9 November 2005; Men's Information and Support Centre, Submission 81, p 21; and Brett Goyne, Submission 51.

[129] Community consultation, Melbourne, 17 August 2005 and Community consultation, Sydney, 9 November 2005.

[130] See, for example, the reforms announced by the Child Support Agency ("Building a better CSA") fact sheets at and See also Patricia Karvelas "Bid to end anti-dad bias in child support" The Australian 5 April 2006, p 9.

[131] Recent figures show that numbers of men receiving child support is slowly increasing, with men representing more than one in ten parents receiving child support. Numbers of paying male parents having contact with their children for 30 per cent or more nights in a year has almost doubled between 1999 and 2005 - from 4.5 per cent to 8.6 per cent: Child Support Agency Fathers figure well in children's lives Media Release 10 April 2006

[132] Community consultation, Melbourne, 17 August 2005; Community consultation, Sydney, 9 November 2005; and HREOC Focus group 16, January 2006. See also discussion at 5.4 in this chapter and discussion of workplace barriers throughout Chapter 4.

[133] HREOC Focus group 16, January 2006.

[134] HREOC Focus group 2, February 2005.

[135] HREOC Focus group 3, February 2005; HREOC Focus group 4, February 2005; HREOC Focus group 5, February 2005; Community consultation, Darwin, 22 September 2005; Union consultation, Melbourne, 14 July 2005; Community consultation, Hobart, 11 August 2005.

[136] HREOC Focus group 11, August 2005.

[137] See for example Alison Osborne The Post-Baby Conversation: What new parents needs to say to each other Rockpool Publishing Double Bay 2006 and Joanne Fedler Secret Mothers' Business Allen & Unwin Sydney 2006.

[138] Alison Osborne The Post-Baby Conversation: What new parents need to say to each other Rockpool Publishing Double Bay 2006, p 4.

[139] HREOC Focus group 11, August 2005.

[140] Community consultation, Kalgoorlie, 12 September 2005.

[141] Community consultation, Sydney, 9 November 2005.

[142] Community consultation, Darwin, 22 September 2005.

[143] See for further information about Family Relationship Centres.