Work/family balance is a focus of significant attention at the community, national and international level.
Australian Research Council (Linkage Grant)
This project will generate new knowledge about the ways in which employment regulation directly and indirectly impacts on employee work/family balance outcomes within different regional and industry contexts.
A growing body of research recognises the linkages between employment regulation and effects on child and parent well-being and health, labour force supply, and economic outcomes. However, little is known about how geographical location shapes work/family balance. The research will thus contribute to improved understandings and to better social policy at the local, state and federal levels.
Who are we?
We are a research team from the Centre for Applied Social Research (CASR) at RMIT University, and Work and Organisational Studies at the University of Sydney.
What is the research about?
This research will examine employee work, family and community balance in regional Victoria. We are particularly interested in how the implementation of employment regulation is shaped by the regional and industry location of workplaces.
The research aims to:
- investigate how regional and industry differences in employment conditions are associated with the capacity to balance work and family, and work and community life
- analyse the particular impact of changing employment regulation on working-time arrangements and work–family–community balance outcomes in a range of specific regional and industry contexts
- identify the ways in which social policy at the local, state and federal levels can better support working Australians to balance work, family and community responsibility and participation
Why are we doing the research?
Little attention has been paid to how employment conditions such as working-time and leave arrangements in different industries and regional locations might impact on employee work and family balance, and to how local infrastructure, such as operating hours for child care and public transport, might also support or frustrate better work and family balance. A pilot project conducted by our research team found that not only was work and family balance a concern for regional employees, but maintaining the balance between work and community participation, such as volunteering, was also important.
What will we do?
The project has four main components:
- Regional snapshots
Snapshots of selected Victorian regions will be developed during 2008 to identify the distinctive features of each region that shape work–family–community balance. The snapshots will draw on ABS Census and other relevant data, as well as wide-ranging stakeholder consultation.
- Employee survey
A telephone survey will be conducted with 3000 Victorian employees in 2009 to identify the main factors that shape work–family–community balance in regional Victoria, including employment conditions and practices, and local infrastructure.
- Industry studies
Four industry studies will be undertaken to examine how industry mediates the impact of employment regulation on work–family–community balance. Each industry study will include analysis of the characteristics of the industry and extensive consultation with key stakeholders such as employers, employees, employer associations and unions.
- Regional roundtables and expert workshops
Three regional roundtables and an expert workshop will draw on project findings to identify policy and regulatory initiatives at all levels of government that support ‘good’ work–family–community balance outcomes.
What will the outcome of the research be?
The research will contribute to better understandings of the ways in which employment regulation directly and indirectly impacts on employee work–family–community balance outcomes within different regional and industry contexts. It will also contribute to improved policy responses at the federal, state and local government levels.
Who is funding the research?
The Australian Research Council (ARC) is jointly funding this research with Industrial Relations Victoria and Regional Development Victoria through the ARC Linkage program.
The research commenced in July 2008 and will be completed in late 2012.
Key RMIT researchers: Sara Charlesworth, Iain Campbell
Who should you contact if you want more information?
Phone (03) 9925 3668
Professor Marian Baird
Work and Organisational Studies
University of Sydney
(02) 9351 6439
Industry partners: Workforce Victoria and Regional Development Victoria
- Working Paper: ‘A Regional Focus on Work and Family Life Interference: An Analysis of Community Indicators Victoria Data’
- Victorian Work and Life Survey (2009): Preliminary Report
Over 3000 Victorian employees were surveyed on regional differences in employment conditions, job quality, caring responsibilities and work-life balance.
- Technical Report
Conferences and presentations
- AIRAANZ 2010 presentation on the VicWAL data (PDF 668 KB)
- AIRAANZ 2009 presentation on the VicWAL data (PPT 475 KB)
- 2009 Work-Women-Care Symposium presentation on the initial VicWAL survey findings (PDF 300 KB)
- 2008 The Australian Sociological Association (TASA) conference presentation on Community Indicators Victoria data (PPT 343 KB)
Visit the University of Queensland’s Women-Work-Care project website for related research on the impact of changing industrial relations law and gender equity and work/family balance in Queensland. This project is led by Assoc Prof Gillian Whitehouse and Prof Janeen Baxter.