Researchers at the University of Newcastle are exploring how commuting long hours or distances to work changes family life.
Senior researcher Dr Jennifer StGeorge, from the University's Family Action Centre, said the research would ask parents to describe how they manage home and family when they commute.
“We know that many parents are short of 'clock-time' with their children, and that they are very conscious of the quality of the family-time they spend together,” she said.
“Family-time is a resource for families. It is a time when they can enjoy each others' company and develop their interests and strengths. But how do parents keep their family functioning well when there are pressures such as work or commuting stress?”
Dr StGeorge said Australian research showed that working parents' time commitments are significantly strained, but parent strategies and priorities had not been examined. This is important because international research shows that work stress or strain can spillover into parent-child relationships.
“Our earlier study with commuters from the Central Coast showed that parents went to extraordinary lengths to make the time that they had with their children count. This study will ask parents across Australia for their experiences of commuting and managing family life.”
Interrelate Family Centres, who are providing funding for the study, believe that commuting can greatly add to the many pressures already on families today. Director Operations for Interrelate, Helen Isenhour, said that finding out how to better support commuting families was high on Interrelate's agenda.
An anonymous online survey will be open during August to parents who have children under 12 years of age and who also commute regularly to work. The link can be found on the Family Action Centre's website.
The Family Action Centre website is www.newcastle.edu.au/research-centre/fac/
For more information about the study: Dr Jennifer StGeorge on 02 4921 6690.
For interviews and photo opportunities: Dr Jennifer StGeorge on 02 4921 6690.
For comments from Interrelate Family Centres: Ms Helen Isenhour on 02 4016 0516.