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Social connections among parents of pre-school-age children in an inner and outer area of Melbourne, Australia

Authors:

Fiona Andrews ,

School of Health and Social Development, Centre for Health through Action on Social Exclusion (CHASE), Faculty of Health, Deakin University, AU
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Julia Shelley,

School of Health and Social Development, Centre for Health through Action on Social Exclusion (CHASE), Faculty of Health, Deakin University, AU
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Stephanie Rich,

School of Health and Social Development, Deakin University, AU
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Alexandra James

School of Health and Social Development, Deakin University, AU
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Abstract

Parents’ social connectedness is an important factor in child health and development outcomes and has been strongly linked to place. This study aimed to compare social connectedness amongst parents in inner versus outer-suburbs of Melbourne using a mixed methods approach. Parents were recruited via playgroups, mother’s groups and preschools and interviewed face- to-face regarding their social networks, with a second open-ended interview focusing on parents’ ideals and experiences of raising children in their current location. Parents in the two areas identified a similar number of contacts, but had differently structured networks. Outer-suburban parents were more likely than inner-suburban parents to have very few contacts, and to name their general practitioner as among their significant contacts. They were less likely to have more extended networks or to include neighbours among their contacts. Parents in both areas had met at least some of their network members through local organisations or services with outer-suburban parents having met a greater proportion of their contacts in this way. Qualitative interview data supported the network analysis revealing the different priorities parents placed on neighbours, barriers experienced in connecting with neighbours in the outer- suburbs and the consequent heavy reliance on organised activities to form social connections. The different types of social connections parents in inner and outer Melbourne made in relation to raising their preschool-aged children revealed in this study have implications for both service delivery and social planning of new developments.

How to Cite: Andrews, F., Shelley, J., Rich, S. and James, A., 2015. Social connections among parents of pre-school-age children in an inner and outer area of Melbourne, Australia. Journal of Social Inclusion, 6(1), pp.35–54. DOI: http://doi.org/10.36251/josi.91
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Published on 02 Sep 2015.
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