Traditionally, parents have moved to low density, middle and outer suburbs of Australian cities to raise their children. However census data shows that between 2001 and 2011, the number of families raising children in inner-city, higher density, suburbs has increased. Many of these suburbs are undergoing rapid transformation through in-fill development of apartments, often not designed for families with children. Little is known about how parents experience raising children in these new settings.
Previously, the participatory research method, Photovoice, has been shown to be particularly useful for researching marginalised or emerging communities. It was thus selected as a means of identifying the needs of parents raising children in new, higher density developments, as well as providing a platform for this emerging group to engage with each other and advocate for change.
This paper reports on the use of Photovoice to explore parents’ experiences of raising children in higher density developments in one inner Melbourne municipality. The project involved a three-step process of 1) individual interviews based on participants’ photographs, 2) a participant group discussion of collective understandings of the issues and development of a presentation for the local council, and 3) delivery of the presentation to elicit council feedback. Using examples, this paper describes the challenges of implementing the Photovoice methodology amongst this group of parents, along with the benefits to participants, council and researchers of using this methodology to explore the experiences of parents raising children in new higher density developments.