The Times They are A-Changing

Society and the families it encompass is a dynamic, ever changing system and we are all aware that ‘things are not like they were when I was young’. Exploring the nature of these changes raises questions about the issues with which our clients present and how we work with these.

A paper presented at the Legal Aid NSW Child Representation Conference in May 2012 notes that there is now increased diversity in timing and sequences of family transitions so there is no longer a clear ‘life script’ to follow but rather a need for more conscious decision making. They suggest that the concept of ‘life cycles’ has been replaced by ‘life course trajectories.’ This comes with a recognition that while different family forms have always existed, their prevalence has changed and with the weakening of social sanctions are more visible. Another key change in comparison to the 20th century is the role of step-parents. Where once step relationships were a result of the death of a parent so the child had one step-parent with whom they lived, it is now more common that this is a result of separation and there may be multiple parent figures and residences. The child may view one, some, none or all as ‘family’. Additionally, separation is more common in step families so the child may gain even more adults who fulfill a parental role.

These changes result in blurring of boundaries with questions of who is ‘in’ and who is ‘out’, who holds authority and who responsibility, more challenging for parents, step-parents, children and practitioners.

Ruth Weston & Lixia Qu   Australian Families: A picture of Change

Paper presented at the Legal Aid NSW Child Representation Conference  26 May 2012

Published by Australian Institute of Family Studies


Children’s rights—Adult responsibility. How to strike the balance?

Upcoming Workshop: 27th March 9:30am – 4:30pm

Working with children and  their families, professionals are often confronted with questions about how to strike a fair balance between the rights of the child and support for the proper authority of adults who care for them.

This one-day workshop will present a framework for assessing and intervening in situations where adult’s authority is continually questioned, leaving children vulnerable and adults impotent. Based on the Bower Place Method and informed by principles of non-violent resistance, the approach helps practitioners clearly differentiate lines of appropriate authority and responsibility which are maximally protective. It proposes intervention that reinforces equitable division of responsibility between adults and children commensurate with the role of the adult and developmental stage of the child.

Theoretical input is complemented by working directly with clients who present with these difficulties, in the Bower Place Complex Needs Clinic. Participants will be invited to work in the room as assistants or as members of the therapeutic team allowing direct application of the ideas that are presented.

This workshop is suitable for those working with children and their families in multiple settings including, schools, child care and early learning centres, mental health and human services and medical and health settings. An opportunity to explore research drawing on live clinical practice.

Cost $190 for full day training with Bower Place Director, Clinical Psychologist and Family Therapist Catherine Sanders.

Call (08) 8221 6066 or email for bookings and further information.

“Children’s rights—Adult responsibility. How to strike the balance?” Workshop