Poverty reduction for single parents: the role of family payments and child support


Our research aim is to investigate the role of child and family policy as determinants of parent wellbeing, parent-child interactions and children’s developmental outcomes (social and emotional health, physical health and cognitive / academic outcomes). We focus on child support payments in particular, as one example of a family-related economic policy that influences families’ health outcomes.


The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) provides a national, longitudinal dataset of a representative cohort of Australian parents and their children (aged 0-1 to 16-17 years; N~ 10,000) with which to address this question. With 6 waves of data now available, we will investigate the following research questions longitudinally:

  1. How robust are child support payments as a poverty reduction intervention for single mothers?
  2. Do child support payments promote single mothers’ wellbeing, and support optimal parenting behaviours, independently of other related ‘protective’ socio-demographic and family factors?
  3. Does this policy intervention show measurable benefits to children’s social, academic and health outcomes, at key ages and stages of children’s development?


La Trobe University

Amanda Cooklin (Principal Investigator), Jan Nicholson


Kay Cook (Swinburne University of Technology) [external link], Sarah Sinclair (RMIT) [external link], Huong Dinh (The Australian National University) [external link]


Building Health Communities Research Focus Area (La Trobe University, 2016-17)