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An unexpected tragedy: evidence for the connection between working hours and family breakdown in Australia

6 Mar 2007

This report sets out to establish whether there is a link between changes in Australian working patterns and aspects of wellbeing associated with relationships, particularly those in families, but also including friendships and participation in the broader community.

A significant body of evidence suggests that those people who work long and unsocial hours spend less quality time with their families and friends and that most Australian families are suffering time pressure resulting from their work. An emerging body of international research shows that these long and atypical working patterns are associated with dysfunctional family environments, including: a) Negative health outcomes for those working these times, particularly if they are parents; b) Strained family relationships; c) Parenting marked by anger, inconsistency and ineffectiveness; And, critically, both long/atypical hours and dysfunctional family environments are associated with d) Reduced child wellbeing.

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