Abstract: This paper focuses on the implications of parental unemployment on the wellbeing, development and protection of children, in light of evidence over the years that parental unemployment can have profound and long-lasting effects on children and their future life trajectories. These two phenomena are not usually considered in relation to each other, especially in the context of government employment policy and services. The paper aims to demonstrate the absence of consideration of the child in current employment policy and service-delivery. It outlines key issues associated with how unemployment relates to children, gives an overview of contemporary employment policy and service responses, and locates these within the current discourse on what constitutes children's wellbeing and protection and the stated objectives of 'Protecting Children is Everybody's Business' (the National Framework for Protecting Australia's Children 2009-2020). Third-sector organisations (TSOs) have, until now, been active in the area of child protection (for example, in providing emergency care for children), and in the area of providing employment services. But the big omission is that their expertise in both these areas has not been brought together in ways that might assist in a broader conception of and approach to child development, including the employment status of the child's parents/carers. As motivation for this analysis, we point to the recent reconfiguration of government departments in South Australia, which has been accompanied by a shift (in nomenclature, at least) from 'children's services' to 'child development', thus f lagging possibilities for moving beyond narrow conceptions of protection ('negative freedoms') to a more comprehensive approach to child development ('positive freedoms' and 'capabilities'). We do, however, express reservations about the continued absence of the basic recognition of the need to treat child wellbeing in the context of family fortunes, most notably the employment status of the adults in the household. On this litmus test of integrated service-delivery in South Australia, newly created departments of child development have yet to grasp the importance of broadening their conceptions of children's wellbeing, and the scope of their practice, to protect children growing up in locations of employment disadvantage.
To cite this article: Kerr, Lorraine and Carson, Ed. Children's wellbeing and unemployment: A role for the third sector [online]. Third Sector Review, Vol. 18, No. 2, 2012: 5-25.
[cited 23 Jun 17].