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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.

This project aims 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.


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

Julie Andreazza, Family farmer, Hanwood NSW
Interests: rural families, schools, dyslexia, child abuse

Judy Atkinson, Emeritus Professor, University of Wollongong, Retired, Goolmangar NSW
Interests: Trauma care and recovery, family violence, indigenous families

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

Helen Bourke-Taylor, Associate Professor, Occupational Therapy, Monash University, Wheelers Hill VIC
Interests: Carers, family income support, maternal health, family support

Greg Brien, Retired school principal, Bungendore NSW
Interests: Family support, carers, disability, schools

Julia Brockhausen, Communications Officer, Health Consumers NSW, Manly NSW
Interests: health care, child care, schools

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

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

Carmel Daveson AM, Community worker, Retired, Mackay QLD
Interests: Empowerment, voluntary work, mentoring

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, Adelaide 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

Karen Howarth, At-home parent and carer, Canberra ACT
Interests: NDIS, carers, disability, addictions, mental health

Shakira Hussein, Researcher, University of Melbourne, Brunswick VIC
Interests: sole parents, multiple sclerosis, family support

Bill Ivinson, Child protection worker, Family and Child Commission, Brisbane QLD
Interests: child protection, community safety, indigenous families

Ian Joseph, Director Autism Spectrum Australia (ASPECT) and Private Consultant, Carringbah NSW
Interests: indigenous issues, disability (autism), banking & finance, training & education and farming & agribusiness

Jeanette Kacanic, Housing worker, Family and Community Services, Pemulwuy NSW
Interests: Sole parents, housing, family support, work-family stresses

Kelly Knick-Parish, Service Manager, ARAFMI Illawarra, NSW
Interests: Mental health, schools, service redesign

Alison Layton, Coordinator, CCA Creative, 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, Consumer Consultant, NSW Mental Health, NSW
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

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

Narelle Patterson, Social worker, Hornsby NSW
Interests: Inter-country adoption, addictions, family violence

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: Disability, mental health, schools, carers, support groups

Janelle Tidey, Volunteer Coordinator, Community Connections, Yandina QLD
Interests: mutual support groups, mental health, ageing

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

Margaret Ward, Former Chair, Mamre Family Support Association, Researcher, Griffith University, Brisbane QLD
Interests: Family-centred supports, self-directed services, disability

Secretary: 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:

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
Sole and separated parents
Blended and step families
Foster care
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.

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