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Parents Families Carers

Australia's parents, families and carers lack a strong voice in Australian public life. Crucial decisions by governments on policies shaping how we care for our families - children, the elderly, those with a disability - are usually made without the input or backing of parents and carers. These decisions usually come from a world view  which reduces family values to a drive for increased workforce participation and increased formal care. But this is often not what most of us want. There is no serious discussion of realistic policies to ease the collision between work and family life, and to tailor services to fit what families really need.

On schools, or disability, or parental leave, the public discussion about families and carers is usually restricted to politicians, academics, and service providers. Often the only voice claiming to speak for families is the conservative Christian lobby through organisations like the Australian Family Association, but such groups do not ‘represent’ the diversity of contemporary Australian families. Because there is no inclusive and representative voice, too many of us are excluded from public debate on policies which profoundly affect our well being.

We aim to develop a strong public voice for parents, families and carers. Participation is welcome from individual parents, families and carers and their support, advocacy and self-help groups.       

Click here to participate.

Click here to read our Statement of Purpose.

Click here for our Empowered Parents Families Carers model for integrating services.

Click here to read about our Family-Friendly Communities project.


A Council directs the work of this project. The members of the Council are:

Judy Atkinson, Emeritus Professor, Southern Cross University, Retired, Goolmangar NSW
Interests: I
ndigenous families, trauma care and recovery, family violence
Francine Bartlett, Mental health social worker, Mittagong NSW
Interests: Parent-infant attachments, child development, family support
Mary Beijerinck-Gooley, Convenor, Babybumps Support Group, NSW
Interests: Early intervention, child care, schools, family support
Stacy Blythe, Foster Carer, Nurse and Lecturer, University of Western Sydney, Quakers Hill NSW
Interests: Foster care, child and family health, substance abuse
Bill Brown, Educator and school reformer, Carindale QLD
Interests: Parents as educators, lifelong learning, schools, empowerment
Moira Byrne, Researcher and policy worker, parent advocate, Canberra ACT
Interests: economics and family impacts, disability, self-employment for disadvantaged people
Jacinta Cashen, Primary school teacher, Melbourne VIC
Interests: Family breakdown, divorce, disability, schools
Cara Cook, Country Women's Association Branch President, Crestwood NSW
Interests: Defence families, schools, childcare, community connections

Karina Coombes, Community Worker, Munupi Corporation, Melville Island NT
Interests: Family empowerment, sole parents, family violence, addictions

Liane Corocher, Farmer and rural resilience officer, Monkerai NSW
Interests: Family farming, rural communities, education, disability
Carmel Daveson AM, Community worker, Retired, Mackay QLD
Interests: Empowerment, voluntary work, mentoring
Moira Eastman, Author and sociologist, Portland VIC
Interests: Mothering, attachment theory, family education, family relationships
Sherridan Emery, Program Coordinator, Tasmanian Institute of Learning & Teaching, Launceston TAS
Interests: Child and family-friendly communities, early childhood learning, schools
Evelyn Field OAM, Advocate and campaigner on bullying, Armadale VIC
Interests: Family relationships, family crises, bullying
Carol Grigg OAM, Founder, Asperger Syndrome Partner Information Australia, Bradbury NSW
Interests: Family relationships, self-help, autism


Deborah Hartman, educator and researcher, Family Action Centre, University of Newcastle, NSW
Interests: family services, education of boys, intentional communities of families


Susan Hill, Associate Professor, Early Childhood Education, University of South Australia SA
Interests: childhood learning, autism, disability
June Hintz, Founder, Make a Difference, QLD
Interests: mental health, aged care, youth support, health care
Ken Houliston, General Manager, The Spot Community Services, Brown Plains QLD
Interests: family support networks, disadvantaged families, self-help
Vern Hughes, Director, Civil Society Australia, Yarraville VIC
Interests: Family relationships, family support, autism
Shakira Hussein, Researcher, University of Melbourne, Brunswick VIC
Interests: Islam, sole parents, multiple sclerosis, family support
Ian Joseph, Director Autism Spectrum Australia (ASPECT) and Private Consultant, Carringbah NSW
Interests: indigenous issues, disability (autism), banking & finance, training & education and farming & agribusiness
Karen Lane, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Deakin University VIC
Interests: Maternity care, mothering, family relationships, professionalised care
Alison Layton, Coordinator, Caring for Carers Australia, Morningside QLD
Interests: Carers, family support, disability, family violence
Gaynor Macdonald, Carer of spouse with dementia, Petersham NSW
Interests: carers, indigenous families, intergenerational care
Elizabeth Martin, Founder, Regional Autism Intervention Network, Bunbury WA
Interests: family support, early childhood education, schools, autism
Jenni Mazlin-Law, Peer support worker, QLD Mental Health, QLD
Interests: Mental health, children of parents with a mental illness, health care
Wayne McGough, Coordinator, Cardijn Community of Australia, Ferntree Gully VIC
Interests: family relationships, self-help, intentional communities of families
Stacey McDonald, Small business proprietor, Wauchope NSW
Interests: Carers, family support, dementia, sole parents
Elspeth McInnes AM, Single mother and sociologist, University of South Australia SA
Interests: Single parents, family violence, child protection, family relationships
Faye McMillan, Pharmacist and Lecturer, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga NSW
Interests: Sole parents, carers, indigenous health, allied health
Sue Miers AM, Founder, National Organisation for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, SA
Interests: Health care, disability, addictions, behavioural issues
Rosemary Norman-Hill, CEO, Kirrawe Indigenous Corporation, Gold Coast QLD
Interests: Indigenous child and family welfare, addictions, trauma
Kelly Parrish, Service Manager, ARAFMI Illawarra, NSW
Interests: Mental health, schools, service redesign
Kathy Pritchard, At home parent and carer, Narraweena NSW
Interests: Mental health, carers, circles of support, family-friendly communities
Jessica Revill, Psychologist, Hurstville NSW
Interests: Adolescents, disability, mental health, relationships
Alison Soutter, Child and Family Psychologist, Retired, Davidson NSW
Interests: Foster care, child protection, mental health
Pat Sutton, Carer Consultant, Central North Adelaide Health Service, SA
Interests: Carers, disability, mental health, schools, support groups
Katie Thompson, Founder and President, Soul Parents, Ballina NSW
Interests: sole parents, welfare dependency, family violence

Allison Trevenna, At-home parent, Rhyll VIC
Interests: Family support, disability, health

Ann Van Leerdam, Office administrator and community worker, Murrumbeena VIC
Interests: Family formation, parenting, community development, faith communities
Margaret Ward, Former Chair, Mamre Family Support Association, Researcher, Griffith University, Brisbane QLD
Interests: Family-centred supports, self-directed services, disability
Tracey Wolsley, Anglican Priest, St John's Parish, Heathcote VIC
Interests: Community connectedness, family support, faith communities
Vern Hughes, Director, Civil Society Australia, Yarraville VIC
Interests: Family relationships, family support, autism

If you would like to join the Council of Parents Families and Carers please indicate your interest in this form.

Statement of Purpose


Parents Families Carers


To be a national voice for parents, families and carers in Australian public life.


1. To represent and advocate for the interests of parents, families and cares as interests which are distinct from those of governments, service providers and charities;

2. To influence the development of public policy which recognises families as the primary relational unit of society, and enhances the rights, capacities, choices, and dignity of parents, families and carers;

3. To develop and promote innovative support and service delivery which empowers parents, families and carers, and builds our capacities and resources;

4. To aggregate the leverage and purchasing power of parents, families and carers in bargaining with suppliers of information, goods and services.


We will bring together parents, families and carers from many different sector areas which are usually treated as segmented fields. The following areas are our key ones because relational and familial issues are critically important to well-being in these areas, yet the voices of parents, families and carers in these fields are usually muted:

Relationship stress and family breakdown
Sole and separated parents
Blended and step families
Foster care

Early intervention and early years development

Child care
Education and schools
Mental illness
Learning difficulties
Behavioural issues
Youth support
Alcohol and drug issues
Indigenous communities
Chronic and acute illness
Aged frailty

Group Affiliation

Existing self-help, support and advocacy groups of parents, families and carers from various sectors are invited to affiliate with Parents Families Carers so as to create a large and inclusive national voice. To be eligible, groups must be governed by parents, families and carers in their capacity as parents, families and carers.

Public Policy Principles

1. Person, relationship and family-centred arrangements should become the norm in all forms of social support, service delivery and social investment – systems and institutions should be tailored to recognise the personalised needs and relational interests of individuals and their families.

2. Empowerment of parents, families and carers to exercise enhanced choice and self-determination should be established as a guiding ethic in public policy.

3. Individualised funding options should be made available in all sectors of social support and service delivery so that families may choose to receive support or a service in the form of an individualised allocation to be administered as they choose.

4. Integrated whole-of-life arrangements should be an option for families in place of fragmented, silo-based systems – individualised consolidations of funding from different programs, funding streams and jurisdictions should be made available to enable these arrangements.

Independence from Government

We wish to avoid the compromised position that many funded advocacy organisations find themselves in, where fear of losing government funding affects their willingness to act independently of government policy.

We will not accept government funding for the core functions of this national voice.


We want to develop innovative forms of participation by parents, families and carers in making our voice heard and exercising the maximum influence possible over our own lives. Streamlined structures, consolidated support resources, good use of online technology, and clarity of purpose are needed to make participation effective.

Further Information

Vern Hughes
0425 722 890

Click here to participate.

Click here for our Empowered Parents Families Carers model for integrating services.

Click here to read about our Family-Friendly Communities project.

© Civil Society Australia 2015-19