School of Social and Political Sciences - Research Publications

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    Indigenous family life in Australia: A history of difference and deficit
    Dunstan, L ; Hewitt, B ; Nakata, S (Wiley-Blackwell, 2020)
    Indigenous family life has been a key target of family and child policies in Australia since colonisation. In this paper, we identify four main policy eras that have shaped the national and state policy frameworks that have impacted Indigenous families: the protectionism, assimilation, self‐determination and neoliberalism eras. Our analysis of these national and state policy frameworks reveals an enduring and negative conceptualisation of Indigenous family life. This conceptualisation continues to position Indigenous families as deficient and dysfunctional compared with a white, Anglo‐Australian family ideal. This contributes to the reproduction of paternalistic policy settings and the racialised hierarchies within them that entrench Indigenous disempowerment and reproduce Indigenous disadvantage. Further, it maintains a deficit paradigm that continues to obfuscate the positive aspects of Indigenous family life that are protective of Indigenous well‐being.
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    Shifts in gender equality and suicide: A panel study of changes over time in 87 countries.
    Milner, A ; Scovelle, AJ ; Hewitt, B ; Maheen, H ; Ruppanner, L ; King, TL (Elsevier, 2020-11-01)
    BACKGROUND: Increasing gender equality remains an imperative for countries and organisations worldwide, and is associated with the improved life outcomes of men and women. Unlike many health and wellbeing indicators, death by suicide is more common among men, but suicidal behaviours are more common among women. Understanding of the relationship between gender equality and suicide is inchoate, and limited to cross-sectional work. We sought to address this gap by examining within-country changes in gender equality over time, in relation to suicide rates. METHODS: Data from 87 countries for the years 2006-2016 were used in this analysis. Gender Equality was measured using the Gender Gap Index (GGI), produced by the World Economic Forum. Male and female suicide rates came from the World Health Organization. Fixed and random-effects unbalanced panel regression models were used, adjusting for: GDP/capita; population; urban/rural ratio; number of children/person;% unemployed; year. Models were stratified by gender. RESULTS: Increasing within-country gender equality was associated with a significant reduction in suicide rates for women (Coef. -7.08, 95% CI -12.35 to -1.82, p = 0.009). For men, there was insufficient evidence that increasing within-country gender equality was associated with reduced within-country suicide rates (Coef. -5.76, 95% CI -19.40 to 7.86, p = 0.403). LIMITATIONS: The reporting and collection of suicide data is known to vary across countries. CONCLUSION: There is evidence that within-country increases in gender equality are associated with significant reductions in within-country suicide-rates for women. More research is needed to understand the drivers of these associations.
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    Life transitions and women's desired number of children: the impact of motherhood, relationships and employment
    Johnstone, M ; Lucke, J ; Hewitt, B (ROUTLEDGE JOURNALS, TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD, 2020-03-27)
    To better understand the gap between women’s childbearing aspirations and actual levels of childbearing, this paper investigates the importance of employment, relationship and motherhood transitions for predicting women’s desired number of children. Women born in 1973–78 participating in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health were asked, at three-time points over six years, how many children they would like to have by the age of 35 years. Women who delayed childbearing, did not marry or enter a cohabiting relationship aspired to fewer children, whilst those who married aspired to more children. Notably, the two-way interactions demonstrated that for women without children, and for women who had had their first child between waves, shifting from secure work to being out of the labour force was associated with desiring fewer children. This finding supports the argument that policies which promote women’s attachment to the workforce enable women to more effectively pursue their aspirations for both motherhood and careers. The findings make a new contribution to the field by indicating that life transitions are more important predictors of desired number of children than background and demographic factors that have long been associated with, and used as explanations for, women’s childbearing.
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    Reordering gender systems: can COVID-19 lead to improved gender equality and health?
    King, T ; Hewitt, B ; Crammond, B ; Sutherland, G ; Maheen, H ; Kavanagh, A (Lancet, 2020-06-19)
    COVID-19 has delivered a shock to existing gender systems that could recalibrate gender roles, with beneficial effects on population health. The economic arrangements, policy frameworks, and market forces that determine the distribution of paid and unpaid labour across society are powerful structural determinants of health.1 The way that paid and unpaid labour is inequitably divided between men and women is central to the perpetuation of gender inequalities across the globe, and the ways that such divisions can be shifted or disrupted offer critical opportunities to modify the gender-differentiated effects of COVID-19 on health.
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    Young Mothers' Experiences of Receiving the Baby Bonus: A Qualitative Study
    Garrett, CC ; Keogh, L ; Hewitt, B ; Newton, DC ; Kavanagh, AM (ROUTLEDGE JOURNALS, TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD, 2017-01-01)
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    The benefits of paid maternity leave for mothers' post-partum health and wellbeing: Evidence from an Australian evaluation
    Hewitt, B ; Strazdins, L ; Martin, B (PERGAMON-ELSEVIER SCIENCE LTD, 2017-06-01)
    This paper investigates the health effects of the introduction of a near universal paid parental leave (PPL) scheme in Australia, representing a natural social policy experiment. Along with gender equity and workforce engagement, a goal of the scheme (18 weeks leave at the minimum wage rate) was to enhance the health and wellbeing of mothers and babies. Although there is evidence that leave, especially paid leave, can benefit mothers' health post-partum, the potential health benefits of implementing a nationwide scheme have rarely been investigated. The data come from two cross-sectional surveys of mothers (matched on their eligibility for paid parental leave), 2347 mother's surveyed pre-PPL and 3268 post-PPL. We investigated the scheme's health benefits for mothers, and the extent this varied by pre-birth employment conditions and job characteristics. Overall, we observed better mental and physical health among mothers after the introduction of PPL, although the effects were small. Post-PPL mothers on casual (insecure) contracts before birth had significantly better mental health than their pre-PPL counterparts, suggesting that the scheme delivered health benefits to mothers who were relatively disadvantaged. However, mothers on permanent contracts and in managerial or professional occupations also had significantly better mental and physical health in the post-PPL group. These mothers were more likely to combine the Government sponsored leave with additional, paid, employer benefits, enabling a longer paid leave package post-partum. Overall, the study provides evidence that introducing paid maternity leave universally delivers health benefits to mothers. However the modest 18 week PPL provision did little to redress health inequalities.
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    Editorial for Special Collection on New Relationships from a Comparative Perspective
    Poortman, A-R ; Hewitt, B (MAX PLANCK INST DEMOGRAPHIC RESEARCH, 2017-07-05)
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    Contemporary fatherhood: Social, demographic and attitudinal factors associated with involved fathering and long work hours
    Coles, L ; Hewitt, B ; Martin, B (SAGE PUBLICATIONS LTD, 2018-12-01)
    Time pressures around work and care within families have increased over recent decades, exacerbated by an enduring male breadwinner culture in Australia and manifested in increasingly long work hours for fathers. We identified fathers who spent relatively long hours actively caring for children despite long work hours and we compared them with other fathers who did less work, less childcare, or less of both. Using 13 waves of the Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey, we explored characteristics associated with the time fathers spent in work and care. The age and ethnicity of fathers differentiated those who spent long hours in both work and childcare from all other groups of fathers, yet other factors were also important for the time fathers spent at work or with children. By examining fathers at the margins of the distributions of work and childcare hours, we add valuable insights into associations between work and care for families.
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    Prospective trends in body mass index by main transport mode, 2007-2013
    Turrell, G ; Hewitt, BA ; Rachele, JN ; Giles-Corti, B ; Brown, WJ (ELSEVIER SCI LTD, 2018-03-01)