Stepfamilies Get The Support Trifecta At Last

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4th November 2010, 02:19pm - Views: 1573

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Stepfamilies get the support trifecta at last

For too long, stepfamilies in Australia have been discounted, but stepfamilies have much to offer

Australian society by demonstrating flexibility, respect, and the ability to adjust creatively to change.

One in every five families with children is a stepfamily, but half of these with non-resident children

are not counted in the Census and therefore invisible.

Too often stepparents also encounter friends and family who find it difficult to understand or

empathise with the dilemmas they face leading to lowered self-confidence as well as high levels of

depression and anxiety among stepparents.  This in turn often contributes to a reluctance to seek

help or even discuss the unique adjustment issues they face, resulting in much higher rates of

family breakdown. “There’s a fear of failure and another family unit breakdown; and a lack of

specialised supports in the community”, says Steve Martin EO of Stepfamilies Australia.

For many years Stepfamilies Australia has worked to bring hope to stepfamilies and increase

community supports. What has been missing for the trifecta is a clear statement of recognition

from Government 

developing stepfamily-inclusive family policy

recognising that repartnering with children brings complex unique challenges which often

places family stability at risk, and

providing supports through adequately funded, specialised prevention services

This is about to change with the development of the Stepfamilies Australia National Network,

launched by the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs Hon

Jenny Macklin at the Family Relationship Services Australia Conference in Melbourne. Minister

Macklin recognised that re-partnering is hard and complex work, that people seeking

help with stepfamily issues need to talk to someone as soon as possible, and congratulated

Stepfamilies Australia and its auspice organisation drummond street services on developing a

national network to strengthen stepfamilies.

Stepfamilies Australia supports Minister Macklin’s call for all Family Relationship organisations to

respond flexibly to the diverse needs of all families. The National Network - a strategic partnership

of community service providers in each state and territory - will ensure that stepfamilies, nationally,

have increased access to information, resources, counselling and education. Practitioners

supporting them will be able to access specialised training through state and territory branches.  A

key feature of services will be online delivery for rural and remote workers, noted Karen Field, CEO

of drummond street services.

“We welcome Minister Macklin’s public expression of support for the Stepfamilies Australia National

Network”, Ms Field said. “We look forward to working with government and the Family Support

sector to not only prevent this cycle of needless family breakdown but also ensure Stepfamilies



Karen Field 0407 865 448; Steve Martin 0412 003 055

195 Drummond Street, Carlton, Victoria 3053

P: +61 3 9663 6733

F: +61 3 9639 3363


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