The evidence shows that children thrive when parents are well supported. But how do we know what kind of help parents need the most?
In 2016, we conducted the most comprehensive survey made to date into the concerns, needs and behaviours of Victorian parents.
This study was called ‘Parenting Today in Victoria’, and painted a picture of how Australia’s parents think and feel about parenting and their relationships with their children.
In 2019 we repeated the study.
By doing this periodic check-in with a sample of Victoria’s parents, we’re able to understand where parents are faring well, where they’ve made progress, and where they still need help.
If you need help turning this evidence into action and impact, get in touch with our team here.
primary caregivers of children under 19 years
of these were women
of these were men
identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander
were from urban areas
of parents were from rural areas
Parents were interviewed in English or one of five community languages.
The 2019 survey found that overall, Victorian parents are faring well.
They generally feel confident in their parenting skills and abilities, and most have someone that they can turn to for support.
However, the survey also found that many continue to be challenged by their child(ren)’s sleeping patterns or habits, and are concerned with their child(ren)’s technology usage. Many also reported that they themselves struggle with their mental and physical health.
We’ve summarised the main findings of the survey below, categorised by focus area. For further information on each of these focus areas, head to the bottom of the page and download the study’s Research Briefs.
When asked if parenting can be learned:
When asked if government should play a role:
When asked about how they felt about parenting:
of parents said they often used positive strategies, such as praise, for good behaviour
of parents said they usually talked to their children about problems and issues
When asked about what they wish they did differently:
said they regret their impatience
with their children
wished they were more consistent
in their parenting
40% of fathers and
48% of mothers
too tired to be the parents they want to be
When asked if they find parenting
said they argued with or yelled at their child
quite a lot or very much
said their children's sleep was a problem
said parenting is frustrating
said parenting is demanding
of parents said they smack their child when they misbehave
were worried about their children's future
When asked if they think preschool age learning experiences are important for children:
of parents believed what they did with their children at home at this time was extremely important for their children's later development
of parents believed early childhood eduction and
care (ECEC) and kindergarten learning was
extremely important for their children's later development
of babies and toddlers were being read to 7 days a week2016 2019
When asked if they have positive interactions with
their children's educators:
However, parents of secondary school aged children reported relatively less satisfaction than parents of younger children
However, parents of older children were less likely to agree they felt welcome
When asked about if they are worried about technology use:
of parents said their children spent too much time on electronic devices2016 2019
‘agreed’ or ‘strongly agreed’ they used their own mobile phone or device too much
When asked if they feel support is close at hand:
have someone they can turn to for parenting advice2016 2019
said they know where to get professional help for their children, if they need it
felt their community was safe for children
said they are satisfied with the help they received from professionals like GPs and educators
After friends and family, the internet is the biggest source of information for parenting with
of parents saying that they use the internet for parenting information2016 2019
When asked if they feel supported by their partner:
felt understood and supported by their parenting partner2016 2019
felt child care and parenting duties are shared fairly
Fathers were happier than mothers with the way parenting and child care duties are shared in the family
When asked about how they look after themselves:
Fathers are more likely to do something for themselves regularly to relax/re-energise than mothers.
Many have had mental health
said they have had symptoms of depression, anxiety or stress since having children
reported serious levels of current psychological distress and
reported moderate levels of current psychological distress
Fathers reported better
mental health than
mothers, and parents of
children with complex
needs were less likely to
report good mental health
Though many are feeling generally less
healthy than in 2016:
reported good physical health2016 2019
reported good mental health2016 2019
Many parents report feeling time-poor:
of parents were dissatisfied or had mixed feelings about the amount of time they could give their children2016 2019
of fathers and
of mothers said their workplace isn’t flexible enough, or they have mixed feelings about it
felt they don’t have enough time to get everything done
The Victorian Government is committed to providing evidence-based services and supports to all families, and critical to this is a thorough understanding of parents concerns and challenges. Through the Parenting Today in Victoria survey, the Parenting Research Centre is helping us ensure that all children and families have the support they need.
Policy maker, Victorian Government
The Parenting Research Centre specialises in helping leaders, policymakers and practitioners to design, adapt, implement and evaluate effective and evidence-based tools and programs to support thriving families.
Have you seen something in the ‘Parenting Today in Victoria: 2019’ findings that you’d like to chat about, or is particularly relevant to your organisation or program? Get in touch with our team of experts to find out how we can help.
To dig into the detailed findings for each of the focus areas, download the study's Research Briefs below.
Child sleep presents a big challenge for many parents, consistent with previous research suggesting 30–50% of parents describe their child’s sleep as problematicDOWNLOAD
The way parents look after themselves has a powerful influence on their children. However, almost 25% of parents do not regularly practise self-care.DOWNLOAD
Parents show good awareness of the impact of their own device use, with 80% of parents finding it easy to put their device away and focus on their child.DOWNLOAD
Overall, Victorian parents rate their quality of life favourably. Parents’ quality of life was positively linked to the support they received from their co-parenting partners, communities and employers.DOWNLOAD
Use of online parenting information is near universal, regardless of gender, level of education and socioeconomic status.DOWNLOAD
Most parents are willing to seek professional help, and know where to go. Teachers, GPs and nurses are the first port of call for most parents seeking help.DOWNLOAD