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)
  • Sarah Sinclair (RMIT)
  • Huong Dinh (The Australian National University)


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