A PICTURE OF AUSTRALIAN FAMILIES AND COMMUNITIES
An individual's family is often their fundamental source of emotional, physical and financial care and support. Support is usually provided by related people who live in the same house - fathers, mothers, partners and siblings. Families provide the nurturing setting in which children grow to become socially responsible adults, and where individuals gain a sense of belonging. The family's role in providing guidance on social values is at the basis of civil society.
Like families, communities are an important source of support and care for individuals, and individuals can gain a sense of identity and security from belonging to a community. Day-to-day interactions between people in a community build trust and reciprocity: the strength of a society's community bonds often determines its resilience and cohesion. Communities can also offer a vast range of services provided by groups, clubs and charitable organisations, which are a crucial adjunct to the institutional care provided by governments.
People's relationships and bonds with one another through family and the community, together with their shared values, contribute to social cohesion. A cohesive society is one in which families and communities are strong and inclusive and where fewer people fall through the cracks.
Information included in the following sections provides a picture of Australian families and communities. The issues explored include changing family structures, family stress, caring for the elderly and disabled, contact with family, friends and social networks, and homelessness.
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