Why are some Americans changing their names?

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For decades, native-born American Jews changed their names to improve their job prospects.
Billion Photos/Shutterstock.com

Kirsten Fermaglich, Michigan State University

In 2008, Newsweek published an article on then-presidential candidate Barack Obama titled “From Barry to Barack.”

The story explained how Obama’s Kenyan father, Barack Obama Sr., chose Barry as a nickname for himself in 1959 in order “to fit in.” But the younger Barack – who had been called Barry since he was a child – chose to revert to his given name, Barack, in 1980 as a college student coming to terms with his identity.

Newsweek’s story reflects a typical view of name changing: Immigrants in an earlier era changed their names to assimilate, while in our contemporary era of ethnic pride, immigrants and their children are more likely to retain or reclaim ethnic names.

However, my research on name changing suggests a more complicated narrative. For the past 10 years, I’ve studied thousands of name-changing petitions deposited at the New York City Civil Court from 1887 through today.

Those petitions suggest that name changing has changed significantly over time: While it was primarily Jews in the early to mid-20th century who altered their names to avoid discrimination, today it’s a more diverse group of people changing their names for a range of reasons, from qualifying for government benefits to keeping their families unified.

Jews hope to improve their job prospects

From the 1910s through the 1960s, the overwhelming majority of people petitioning to change their names weren’t immigrants seeking to have their names Americanized.

Instead, they were native-born American Jews who faced significant institutional discrimination.

In the 1910s and 1920s, many employers wouldn’t hire Jews, and universities began establishing quotas on Jewish applicants. One way to tell if someone was Jewish was his or her name, so it made sense that Jews would want to get rid of names that “sounded” Jewish.

As Dora Sarietzky, a stenographer and typist, explained in her 1937 petition:

“My name proved to be a great handicap in securing a position. … In order to facilitate securing work, I assumed the name Doris Watson.”

Since most petitioners were native-born Americans, this wasn’t about fitting in. It was a direct response to racism.

The changing face of name changing

While 80 percent of petitioners in 1946 sought to erase their ethnic names and replace them with more generic “American-sounding” ones, only 25 percent of petitioners in 2002 did the same. Meanwhile, few name changers in the past 50 years have actually made a decision like Barack Obama’s: Only about 5 percent of all name change petitions in 2002 sought a name more ethnically identifiable.

So why, in the 21st century, are people feeling compelled to change their names?

The demographics of name change petitioners today – and the reasons that they give – suggest a complicated story of race, class and culture.

Jewish names disappeared in the petitions over the last two decades of the 20th century. At the same time, the numbers of African-American, Asian and Latino petitioners rose dramatically after 2001.

On the one hand, this reflected the changing demographics of the city. But there was also a marked shift in the class of petitioners. While only 1 percent of petitioners in 1946 lived in a neighborhood with a median income below the poverty line, by 2012, 52 percent of petitioners lived in such a neighborhood.

Navigating the bureaucracy

These new petitioners aren’t seeking to improve their educational and job prospects in large numbers, like the Jews of the 1930s and 1940s.

Instead, today’s petitioners seem to be trying to match their names with those of other family members after a divorce, adoption or abandonment. Or they’re looking to fix bureaucratic errors in their records – the misspelled or mistaken names that were long ignored, but have increasingly become major problems in the 21st century.

In the wake of Sept. 11, the nation’s obsession with security translated to an increased anxiety surrounding identity documents. This anxiety seems to have particularly burdened the poor, who now need the names on their birth certificates to match drivers’ licenses and other documents in order to get jobs or government benefits.

Roughly 21 percent of petitioners in 2002 sought to correct errors on their vital documents, while in 1942, only about 4 percent of petitions had been submitted to change a mistake on an identification document.

“When I apply for Medicare premium payment program,” one petitioner explained in 2007, “they denied it because my name doesn’t match my social security card.”

Why change your name if it won’t help?

There’s also another key difference between today and the early 20th century: limited upward mobility.

Even though multiple studies have shown that people with African-American-sounding names are more likely to face job discrimination, poor African Americans in Brooklyn and the Bronx aren’t getting rid of their African-American-sounding names.

Perhaps this is because poor or working class people in 21st-century America have fewer possibilities for upward mobility than there were for Jews in the 1940s working as clerks, salesmen and secretaries.

So even if having an ethnic-sounding name might hinder middle-class African Americans’ ability to find a better job, there’s less of an incentive for poor people of color to change their names.

Racism against Arab-Americans

There is one striking exception, and it demonstrates the powerful role discrimination continues to play in American society.

After Sept. 11, there was a surge of petitions from people with Arabic-sounding names.

Their petitions were achingly similar to those of Jews in the 1940s, though many of these newer petitioners were more open about the hatred they faced:

“Prevailing attitudes and prejudices against persons of Arabic descendancy have been adversely affected as a direct result of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001,” one petitioner wrote. “Petitioner wishes to change his name to a less demonstratively Muslim/Arabic first name.”

By 2012, however, petitioners with Muslim or Arabic names had stopped changing their names in large numbers. That probably doesn’t have anything to do with a more tolerant society. Instead, in 2009, the New York City Police Department began conducting surveillance into New York’s Muslim and Arab communities using Civil Court name change petitions, sending the message that the act of changing your name might make you as much of a suspect as keeping it.

Although there has been substantial change in the name change petitions over the past 125 years, there’s one lasting lesson: Name changing is not a simple story. It hasn’t moved smoothly from an era in which immigrants simply wanted to fit in, to an era in which diversity is welcome.

Instead, name changing illustrates that racial hatred and suspicion have been a lasting presence in American history, and that intertwined definitions of race and class are hardening – and limiting – the opportunities of people of color.The Conversation

Kirsten Fermaglich, Associate Professor, Michigan State University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


Starting a Family Tree

The link below is to an article that takes a look at the basics of how to start a family tree.

For more visit:

A DNA test says you’ve got Indigenous Australian ancestry. Now what?

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Families have secrets – and sometimes we don’t know our complete genetic histories.
from www.shutterstock.com

Elizabeth Watt, Deakin University; Emma Kowal, Deakin University, and Shaun Lehmann

Technologies for amplifying, sequencing and matching DNA have created new opportunities in genomic science. In this series When DNA Talks we look at the ethical and social implications.

Getting your “DNA done” is all the rage in the United States.

The sensationalism started with celebrities such as Jessica Alba, and Snoop Dog – and has now spread to hundreds of video bloggers disclosing their ancestry to drum rolls, exclamations, cheers and tears.

These tests claim to reveal deep ancestral origins, and many public users of this technology are black Americans seeking information about their African roots.

Snoop Dog sent his DNA to be tested – and did the maths faster than this TV host.

The uptake of direct-to-consumer genetic testing has been slower in Australia, and complicated by debates both beyond and within the Indigenous community – with some leaders calling on greater scrutiny to prevent “fakes” or “wannabes” calling themselves Indigenous.

One of the authors on this paper – Shaun Lehmann – was dropped into this debate inadvertently, after receiving the result of his own DNA test a few years ago.

Read more:
DNA Nation raises tough questions for Indigenous Australians

Professional and personal

Shaun had more professional reasons for doing the test than most: at the time he was lecturing in human genetic diversity at the Australian National University, and wanted to use his own genetic data as teaching tool.

He also had personal questions about his maternal grandmother, who had died when he was a small child. She had grown up without her mother, and said little about her background.

Because they are related through a direct maternal line, Shaun knew that it was his grandmother, and by extension mysterious great-grandmother, who gave him his mitochondrial genome.

Mitochondria are the tiny organelles that make energy in our cells. While the genome in the nucleus of our cells – our 23 pairs of chromosomes – is made up of a mix of our biological mother’s and father’s DNA, the relatively small mitochondrial genome is passed down through the egg and so reflects a single line of maternal ancestors.

Read more:
Explainer: what are mitochondria and how did we come to have them?

What Shaun didn’t know at the time, and what the test revealed, was that his particular mitochondrial genome fell into a haplogroup (a grouping of similar mitochondrial genomes) called “S2”, which has only been observed in Aboriginal Australians.

Interpreting genetic results

Being mitochondrial DNA, Shaun knew exactly where to look in his genealogy to find out more. Sure enough, he soon found records that his grandmother’s maternal family were Aboriginal people originally from the Albany area of Western Australia. With this information in hand, Shaun was able to trace his family tree to living Noongar relatives.

How mitochondrial DNA and nuclear DNA are passed on.
Wikimedia Commons, CC BY

Shaun’s discovery was certainly aided by the fact that he is a geneticist and could interpret his DNA test results. Most important, though, was that his Aboriginal ancestry happened to be in the direct maternal line.

Mitochondrial DNA is a reliable source of genetic information about Aboriginal ancestry, but it can’t help at all if your Aboriginal ancestors sit anywhere else in your family tree. That is, it’s only useful to track direct from mother to grandmother to great grandmother, and so on.

Read more:
Friday essay: when did Australia’s human history begin?

Different kinds of DNA tests

Most of the “ethnic breakdown” DNA results being shared publicly by bloggers come from testing companies that compare their nuclear DNA with material from various ethnic groups. The tests focus on variations in specific regions of genes – known as single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs.

To our knowledge, DNA testing companies do not currently have reliable reference SNP data from Indigenous Australians.

One company offering tests claiming to identify Indigenous Australians uses an approach that compares sequences in genes known as Short Tandem Repeats, or STRs. STR data from around the world is widely available in the forensic science literature because it is widely used in criminal investigations and paternity testing.

Read more:
Is your genome really your own? The public and forensic value of DNA

Ethical and scientific concerns have been raised about the use of STR data for commercial ancestry testing. For example, it is difficult to know how companies get their reference samples.

The case of American blogger Lisa Garrigues is illustrative. Garrigues did a test back in 2010 – it reportedly gave her second “Highest Resolution Global Population Match” as “European-Aboriginal”.

She was excited by this discovery, but also sceptical – her family has no known connections to the Southern Hemisphere. Lisa and her father subsequently did more thorough DNA testing, and it didn’t suggest Aboriginal ancestry.

In our personal correspondence with one of the genetic genealogists that assisted Lisa, Doug McDonald suggests these kind of inconsistencies are extremely common – STR markers are not designed for ancestry tests, but for matching individual people.

After the test: now what?

We need to be on the lookout for misinformation and unethical practices around genealogy testing. But even where the science is reliable, such as Shaun’s mitochondrial DNA test, the implications of identifying genetic Indigenous ancestry are far from clear.

Shaun was proud to learn about his ancestry, and has since got in contact with his relatives. He is also looking into his grandmother’s past to find out whether her separation from her mother was influenced by the policies that led to the Stolen Generations.

Existing research suggests there are many possible endings for journeys like Shaun’s. Bindi Bennett’s work highlights how young, light-skinned people who had no previous ties to the Aboriginal community can develop a strong Indigenous identity, even in the face of resistance from that community.

Read more:
Culture, not colour, is the heart of Aboriginal identity

But Fiona Noble’s 1996 research with Queenslanders who discovered their Aboriginal ancestry late in life suggests many of this demographic see their heritage as extremely important, but not all-defining.

They are more comfortable describing themselves as being “of Aboriginal descent” than “Aborginal”.

As Regina Ganter notes, the “in-between” status of these “half-steps” is not well-recognised contemporary policy and discourse – which tends to frame Aboriginality as an either/or identity.

Although Noble and Bennett’s research participants discovered their heritage through documents or family stories, not genetics, their work offers a window onto a future where more Australians discover Aboriginal ancestry through DNA tests.

Without a doubt, the inevitable collision of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia with direct-to-consumer genetic testing will continue to raise challenging questions about ancestry and identity in the 21st century.

The Conversation

Read more:
DNA facial prediction could make protecting your privacy more difficult

Elizabeth Watt, Research Fellow, Deakin University; Emma Kowal, Professor of Anthropology, Deakin University, and Shaun Lehmann, PhD Student, Australian National University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Is your genome really your own? The public and forensic value of DNA

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Females who remain unidentified at the time of burial are named ‘Jane Doe’.

Nathan Scudder, University of Canberra and Dennis McNevin, University of Technology Sydney

Technologies for amplifying, sequencing and matching DNA have created new opportunities in genomic science. In this series When DNA Talks we look at the ethical and social implications.

When Joseph DeAngelo was arrested in the United States last month over a series of 30-year-old murders and assaults, attention quickly focused on how the suspect was found.

In their search for the so-called “Golden State Killer”, police looked for DNA matches on a public genealogy database that people use to build family trees. This approach led police first to a close relative, and then to the suspect.

Read more:
How cops used a public genealogy database in the Golden State Killer case

Applying genealogical research techniques to forensic DNA analysis is a useful tool in solving cold cases.

However – as many who have traced their family tree would know – genealogy is not for the fainthearted. It is a complex and difficult process, prone to error and misinterpretation. Family trees have been described as “entangled meshes”.

Without expert knowledge, false assumptions can be made and investigative resources wasted. The technique also raises legal, ethical and policy challenges.

Identifying human remains

In 1981, a woman wearing a buckskin jacket was found murdered on a roadside in Ohio. The unidentified “Buckskin Girl” was buried in a “Jane Doe” grave. While investigators pursued various leads, DNA obtained from retained blood yielded no matches.

In 2018, the DNA Doe Project – a new charity applying a technique called “forensic genealogy” to unsolved missing person cases – agreed to work on the case.

Using crowdfunding, the volunteers collected donations to undertake “whole genome” sequencing. This generated enough genetic data, consistent with the markers used by online DNA providers, to allow upload to a public genealogy site.

The search returned a possible first cousin, once removed. By searching that individual’s shared family tree, a presumptive identification was made. The family tree included a comment about a relative: “Death – Unknown Missing – Presumed Dead”.

In a matter of hours, genealogists had provided a solid lead in a 37-year-old case, leading to the identification of the victim as Marcia King.

There are about 500 sets of unidentified human remains in Australia. Given the success of genealogists at the DNA Doe Project, applying this approach could help bring closure to families.

Read more:
Australia has 2,000 missing persons and 500 unidentified human remains – a dedicated lab could find matches

Where things can go wrong

Law enforcement use of forensic genealogical data has not always yielded such results.

In 1996, Angie Dodge was murdered in Idaho. DNA was recovered from the crime scene and, nearly 20 years later, the profile was searched against a genealogy database. A close match was returned and investigators identified that individual’s son, Michael Usry Jr., as a suspect.

However, Usry, who was coincidentally on vacation in Idaho around the time of the murder, later provided a DNA sample and was ruled out as the culprit. Usry says that it took a month to clear his name through DNA.

Search engines still return results linking him to the investigation. While almost all hits make clear that he was eliminated as a suspect, one asks: “Do you think Michael Usry Jr. could be involved in Angie’s murder?”

Will people be put off genetic testing?

The potential for online genetic databases to be used to help law enforcement is increasing – the DNA testing market is expected to more than triple by 2022, to A$388 million. In 2017, AncestryDNA – the largest provider – reportedly sold 1.5 million test kits in a single sales weekend alone.

But use of forensic genealogy also has the potential to undermine consumer trust in genetic testing and online genealogy.

Genetic providers may be more susceptible to consumer backlash about privacy concerns than social media companies such as Facebook, which has continued to grow in spite of recent concerns about its data storage practices. Many users do not find the need to engage with genetic providers on an ongoing basis, like they do with Facebook. After initial testing, users wishing to minimise privacy risks could potentially download their data and then delete their accounts, preventing the company from further using their data.

Read more:
New cryptocurrencies could let you control and sell access to your DNA data

Genetic providers are also limited in their ability to implement privacy safeguards, such as identity verification, due to the very nature of their products. Individuals may legitimately use the tool without knowing their true birth name or names of family members.

In each of these cases, investigators uploaded of some form of genetic data, of unknown origin, to a public database. This could amount to a breach of a provider’s terms and conditions, but there may be little the company can do to prevent such use.

We should proceed with caution

Forensic genealogy is just one example of the growing intelligence value of publicly accessible data. Police have also used social media to track suspects. A coroner in Idaho noted that:

Facebook is not something we thought we’d be using to find next of kin. We use it every single week.

This kind of law enforcement activity online has been litigated in the past.

In a 2014 US case, evidence was admitted despite police obtaining access to a social media account by inviting the defendant to accept a fake friend request. Here the defendant explicitly consented, but genealogical websites often promote the sharing of family tree and genetic information, without requiring consent to share with each new connection.

This followed a 2013 example where the US Drug Enforcement Administration allegedly created a fake social media account in the name of the owner of a seized mobile phone. In that case, the social media provider wrote demanding no other fake accounts be created on its platform.

Similar arguments may arise with forensic genealogy. Courts may need to balance the benefits to society of solving crime with whether the user has given implied consent, both for themselves and their relatives.

Privacy legislation may also kick in at the point where a profile is identified, or is reasonably identifiable. When that occurs, the forensic genealogist has created an online genetic profile for a third party, without their consent.

The use of forensic genealogy brings us closer to a point where it may be possible – given enough data and resources – to identify any genetic sample. Crowdsourcing and crowdfunding means this technique is available to all.

The ConversationAchieving an approach that is privacy compliant, balanced and cautious is essential to maintaining public trust and minimising potential harm. Otherwise individuals who, having parted with $99 and a small vial of saliva, may suddenly find themselves part of a criminal investigation.

Nathan Scudder, PhD Researcher, University of Canberra and Dennis McNevin, Professor, University of Technology Sydney

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Five things to consider before ordering an online DNA test

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DNA testing has its risks, including that you don’t know who will own your genetic data.
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Jane Tiller, Monash University and Paul Lacaze, Monash University

You might be intrigued by what your genes could tell you about your ancestry or the health risks hidden in your DNA. If so, you’re not alone.

Fascination with personal genetics is fuelling an explosion of online DNA testing. More than 12 million people have been tested – 7 million through ancestry.com alone. Amazon reported the 23andMe online DNA test kit as one of its top five best-selling items on Black Friday in 2017.

But while online genetic testing can be interesting and fun, it has risks. Here are five things to keep in mind if you’re considering spitting in a tube.

1. Understand the limits of what’s possible

Keep in mind the evidence behind claims a DNA testing company makes. Some companies list the science that backs up their claims, but many don’t.

DNA testing can be used to tell your ancestry and family relatedness quite accurately, but companies claiming to predict wine preferences or children’s soccer prowess from DNA are in the realm of fantasy.

There is also a lack of regulation on this issue to protect consumers.

Genetic testing products like 23andMe are exploding in popularity.
from shutterstock.com

2. Make sure you’re prepared for the information

Genetics can tell us many things, some of which we may not be prepared for. You may go in looking for information on your ancestry, but could find out about unexpected paternity. Or you might discover you’re at risk of certain diseases. Some of these have no cure, like Alzheimer’s disease, which could only leave you distressed.

Read more:
Genetic testing isn’t a crystal ball for your health

Some products can test for genetic changes in the BRCA genes that put you at risk of breast and ovarian cancers. Other online genetic interpretation tools can take raw data from ancestry DNA tests and, for a small payment, provide a wide range of disease risk estimates, many of which have been brought into question by the scientific community.

Think carefully about whether you really want to know all this information, and whether it’s valid, before you proceed.

3. Consider the medical follow-up you might need

If something serious is discovered in your genes, you might need the results to be professionally interpreted, or to have genetic counselling to come to terms with what you’ve learnt.

Some genetic information can be complex and difficult to interpret, and have medical implications for you and your family. Relying on the internet for interpretation is not advised.

Read more:
A little bit of knowledge: the perils of genetic tests for Alzheimer’s disease

Does the DNA testing company offer any counselling or medical services? If not, are you hoping your GP or genetics clinic will provide this? You might find GPs are not adequately trained to understand DNA results, and public genetics services have very long waiting lists. This means you might be left on tenterhooks with a potentially distressing result.

Before you spit into a tube, be prepared for what you might discover.
from shutterstock.com

4. Think how the results may affect your insurance

In Australia, private health insurance can’t be influenced by genetic test results. But life insurance companies can use genetic test results to discriminate against applicants, with little consumer protection. All genetic test results known to an applicant at the time of a life insurance application must be disclosed if requested, including internet-based test results.

Read more:
Australians can be denied life insurance based on genetic test results, and there is little protection

Once you have a result that indicates increased risk of disease, the life insurance company may use this against you (by increasing premiums, for instance), even if the scientific evidence isn’t solid. This applies to life, income protection, disability and even travel insurance.

5. Consider who will have access to your DNA and data

Some online genetic testing companies don’t comply with international guidelines on privacy, confidentiality and use of genetic data. Many online testing companies retain DNA samples indefinitely. Consumers can request samples be destroyed, but sometimes have difficulties with this.

Some online testing companies have been accused of selling access to databases of genetic information to third parties, potentially without the knowledge of donors. You might have to plough through the fine print to find out what you have consented to.

Read more:
Take an online DNA test and you could be revealing far more than you realise

The ConversationIn many ways, it is wonderful we now have access to our personal DNA code. However, as always, understanding the limitations and risks of fast-moving medical technology is very important.

Jane Tiller, Ethical, Legal & Social Adviser – Public Health Genomics, Monash University and Paul Lacaze, Head, Public Health Genomics Program, Monash University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Mum, dad and two kids no longer the norm in the changing Australian family

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Grandparent-led families are increasingly significant in Australia.

Brendan Churchill, University of Melbourne

The image of the typical family – mum, dad, and two kids – still permeates how we define and understand the family in contemporary Australia. This ideal saturates our screens and newsfeeds and was at the centre of the marriage equality debate, underscoring the pervasiveness of the nuclear family as the dominant family form in our consciousness.

However, this conceptualisation masks the true nature of Australian families, which has changed significantly in recent decades. As sociologists and demographers have long known, the Australian family is as diverse and different as the country’s terrain.

Drawing on data from the 2016 Census, we know there are more than 6 million families in Australia. This is a significant increase from the 5 million or so families counted at the 2011 Census.

Figure 1 – Family composition.
2016 Census – Counting Families, Place of Enumeration

Of these 6 million families, the most-common family form (as illustrated in Figure 1) was the couple family with no children (37.76%). The next-most-common was couple families with dependent children under the age of 15 (30.64%).

These proportions confirm that the nuclear family is no longer the most common family form in Australia. One-parent families with dependent children comprise around 8% of all Australian families.

Reflecting this move away from the traditional, nuclear family and the rise of more couple families without children, is the size of families. In 2016, around 30% of all families were two-person families. A further 27% were four-person families.

Figure 2 – Family blending.
2016 Census – Counting Families, Place of Enumeration

Most couple families with children in Australia are so-called “intact families” (89.94%), consisting of at least one one child who is the natural or adopted child of both partners in the couple.

However, families are becoming increasingly more “blended”, as couples dissolve (due to separation, divorce or death of a partner) and new families are formed.

Blended families are a small proportion of modern Australian family forms, accounting for just over 3.7% of all families. This includes families with two or more children, at least one of whom is the natural or adopted child of both partners and at least one other child who is the step-child of one of them.

A further 6.3% of families are step-families. Here, there is at least one resident step-child, but no child who is the natural or adopted child of both partners.

Grandparent-led families are also increasingly significant.

Grandparents already play a significant role in Australian family lives through the provision of informal child care, but there are now just over 60,000 grandparent families in Australia (which a significant increase from estimates in 2004, which found around 22,500 grandparent families). Of those, 53% of grandparent families are couple families with grandchildren and 47% are lone grandparent families.

Figure 3 – Family composition by same-sex.
2016 Census – Counting Families, Place of Enumeration

The 2016 Census gathered information on same-sex couples. Compared with opposite-sex couples, these data show that family forms differ across sexual orientation.

Overall, around 15% of same-sex couples had children. Female same-sex couples were more likely to be in couple families with dependent children (20.67%) compared to male same-sex couples (3.10%), or opposite-sex couples (37.8%).

However, same-sex couples were still more likely to be in couple families with no children than were opposite-sex couples, and they were more likely to have smaller families. Of those, around 54% of male same-sex couples with children and 51% of female same-sex couples with children had one-child families. One-third of same-sex couples had two children.

In comparison, 36% of opposite sex-couples had one child, and 42% had two children.

What these data from the 2016 Census show is just some of the diversity within the Australian family. While the idealised nuclear family of the past is no more, this does not mean that the family as a social institution is in decline, or that families in contemporary Australia are at risk.

The ConversationBut it does mean families are changing. Our political leaders should reflect on this diversity to ensure social policies reflect these differences, so that all families are well supported.

Brendan Churchill, Research Fellow, University of Melbourne

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Silly Season Break

I wasn’t going to have a break from posting blog posts over Christmas – New Year, but I have now decided that I will. I’m just too tired not to have a break. So at some point I’m going to go bush, throw up the tent and read some books (modern-style). I could really use the break right now. Still, from time to time I may post something I come across. This will be an extended period, from the time I post this update, through to the middle of January 2018. From that point I’ll get back to more regular posts.

So let me take this opportunity to wish you all a great Christmas and New Year, and enjoy the time with family and friends if you can. – now something for a parting laugh