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Australia

Conclusion

The traditional family as we tend to understand it today has not been with us throughout history. Prior to white settlement, complex kinship systems regulated virtually all aspects of life of aborigines in Australia. Although many aspects of this management have eroded, a distinctive aboriginal family form continues to exist today, reflecting the resilience of this form of family system—a point noted by McDonald (1995).

The 200 years of white settlement in Australia have seen huge changes in the population and land use. As wave after wave of new settlers reached Australia's shores, the makeup of Australian families underwent dramatic transformations. But in some respects, the wheel has turned full circle. For instance, high rates of cohabitation and sole-parent families—which are sometimes seen as threats to the survival of the family—were also quite common in the pioneering period, although the circumstances surrounding them are different than they were then.

Many of the modern changes have created misgivings about the future of the family, but its failure to change can be a bigger threat to survival than change itself. The pattern of fluctuations across the past century reflects the capacity of the family to enact and respond to change, and in doing so, reflects the resilience of the family as an institution.


See also: KINSHIP


Bibliography

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RUTH E. WESTON

ROBYN PARKER

LIXIA QU

Additional topics

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaMarriage: Cultural AspectsAustralia - Indigenous Australian Families, White Settlement, Family Trends: A Long-term Perspective, Family Diversity