dance / “Orb”. Sydney Dance Company. At Canberra Theatre May 25–27. Reviewed by BILL STEPHENS.
IN the midst of National Family Week the Australian National University has released a study, which found a third of Australian children aged 11-13 years say their fathers work too much.
As part of the “Growing Up in Australia” study, the research observed around 3000 fathers and their children and during this time found that one third of children did not always enjoy time with their dads.
Lead researcher Prof Lyndall Strazdins says fathers’ long hours on the job, including regular night and weekend work and difficulties getting time off work, contributed to their children’s perceptions.
“Australia’s work culture and social norms are making it hard for dads to be the fathers they want to be,” she says.
“More than half of fathers reported missing family events because of work, while a fifth described their family time as more pressured and less fun due to their jobs, and these were problems their children shared.”
Research shows that, on average across the Australian population, fathers spend more time at paid work than mothers, who take on more care and domestic responsibilities.
Prof Strazdins says nearly half of fathers worked more than 44 hours a week.
“Our research has shown that people who work more than 39 hours per week are putting their health at risk, and we have also shown that expectations to work long hours are a problem for gender equality,” she says.
“Workplaces still assume men are more devoted to their jobs than women and so they expect men to work longer hours, but this creates dilemmas for fathers.
“Our research shows that although kids really value the work that their parents do, whether it’s at home, in the office or elsewhere, they also have views about how long is too long to work.
“While nearly one in eight children wished their father did not work, most kids understand that dad needs to work.”
ANU conducted the research with the Australian Institute of Family Studies and the WZB Social Science Institute in Berlin.
The research paper, “Long Hours and Longings: Australian Children’s Views of Fathers’ Work and Family Time”, is published in the “Journal of Marriage and Family”.