Children, Families and Communities

Fifth Edition

Rebekah Grace, Kerry Hodge, Catherine McMahon

Children, Families and Communities

Fifth Edition

Rebekah Grace, Kerry Hodge, Catherine McMahon






28 Oct 2016




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The child development field is changing all the time, and with each edition this book has endeavoured to reflect contemporary thinking, current theory and research, as well as the most topical issues. The editors also flag the issues that they see as important to moving the field forward, such as the importance of child voice and participation in decision making relating to research, policy and practice. 

This fifth edition is focused on child development within the Australian context and the factors that influence children’s development. These include the effects of disability, ethnicity, family, school, neighbourhood (including rural, urban and remote communities) and state interventions and policies. The structure continues to reflect the contextual layers described in Bronfenbrenner’s bioecological model. All of the individual chapters have been reconceptualised and rewritten to reflect current research evidence and theory development. 

The book benefits from the contributions of experts with child development backgrounds alongside those who think about childhood within the disciplinary frames of sociology, history, social work, education, health, and law. The authors bring exceptional academic, policy, and practical experience.  

Learning Features

  • Chapter openings include chapter summary statements and information about chapter structure to help students to focus on the key elements of each chapter.
  • Case study examples help students link theory to practice.
  • End of chapter exercises enable students to test their understanding of each chapter.
New to this edition
  • New Improved references. Referencing style moved to standard APA referencing and includes end of chapter references and short annotated key reference list making it much easier for students to navigate references. 
  • More examples from upper primary and secondary to give pre-service teachers a wider range of examples.
  • New Editor – Catherine McMahon adds her expertise in child development/psychology to the team.
  • Content on child development and parent-child relationships expanded in a significantly revised Chapter 6  Family as the Primary Context of Children’s Development
  • Expanded Chapter 13 – Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children and Families: The Legacy of Strong State Intervention provides a broader discussion of issues for Australia’s Indigenous children and families


Figures and table
Chapter 1:Child Development in Context
Why is context important in child development? 
Children in the Australian context 
Bronfenbrenner’s bioecological theory of child development 
The social ecology model 
The bioecological model 
Epigenetics: The relationships between genes and environment 
Experience, environment and the developing brain 
Formation and refinement of neural networks 
Developmental plasticity 
Risk and resilience 
Structure of this book 
Chapter 2:Research about and with Children, Families, and Communities 
Large-scale longitudinal research 
The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children 
Ethnographic research in children’s settings 
Insights from ethnographic research 
Collaborative research in early childhood settings 
Researching with children 
Ethical considerations 
Chapter 3:Children with Developmental Disability 
How is disability defined? 
What role does context play? 
Consequences for children with disabilities 
Consequences for families 
Consequences for communities 
Chapter 4: Advanced Development 
Examining the characteristics of advanced intellectual development or giftedness 
Consequences of advanced development for the child 
Consequences for the family 
Consequences for educational settings 
Consequences for communities 
Chapter 5:Cultural Belonging and Being at Home in Australia 
People’s Experiences of being and belonging in Australia 
How do people describe themselves and their cultural identity? 
Cultures and cultural contexts 
Changes in how people think about culture 
Processes of changing in relation to culture: Enculturation and acculturation 
Consequences: Cultural life in a multicultural society 
Negotiating multiple identities 
The benefits and burdens of a bicultural identity 
Becoming comfortable with diversity and multicultural identities 
Chapter 6:Family as the Primary Context of Children’s Development 
What is a family? 
An overview of demographic trends in Australian families 
Different family structures 
The caregiver–child attachment relationship 
Different parenting styles 
Determinants of parenting quality 
Child contributions to parenting 
Ecology of the family: Consequences for children’s development and wellbeing 
Summary and implications 
Interventions to support parenting 
Chapter 7:Challenging Contexts for Contemporary Australian Families
Structural and cultural contexts 
Family structure: Single-parent families 
Cultural diversity 
Economic contexts 
Financial stress 
Housing stress 
Housing conditions 
Social contexts 
Geographical isolation 
Social isolation 
Consequences of challenging contextual circumstances 
Single parenthood 
Poverty, homelessness and housing problems 
Geographic and social isolation 
Interventions to help alleviate economic and social disadvantage 
Communities for Children 
Schools as Community Centres 
Pathways to Prevention 
Family to Family
Alternate ways of engaging families 
Chapter 8:Interconnections between Family, Child Care and Education
Policy directions informing education and care 
Partnerships and interconnections with families 
Continuity and transitions between prior-to-school settings and school 
The influence of government policies: Quality assurance
The influence of policies for preschool programs 
The influence of a strong start at school 
The influence of quantity of ECEC 
Chapter 9:Children and Technology in a Smart Device World 
Defining media, technology and play 
You are what you eat 
Media and technology in the home 
Media and technology in educational settings 
Children’s engagement with technology and media 
Positive impacts of media and screen-based technologies on children 
Negative impacts of media and screen-based technologies on children 
Implications for parents and educators 
Chapter 10:Active Outdoor Play 
Population changes 
Child care 
Measurement of physical activity and play 
Intervention studies 
Interventions in child care 
Interventions in schools 
Chapter 11:Relationships with Peers 
The development of peer relationships 
Peer friendships 
Peer acceptance and rejection 
Bullying in the peer context 
Factors predicting bullying and victimisation 
Bullying and the peer group 
Social ecology of the school environment 
Consequences for children’s development 
Approaches to interventions 
Chapter 12:Child Protection and Out-of-Home Care 
Parental/state responsibility for children 
Defining child abuse and neglect 
Incidence of reported child abuse and neglect 
Risk factors for child maltreatment 
Risk factors for sexual abuse 
Response of the state to child abuse and neglect 
Effects of abuse and neglect on children 
Effects of out-of-home care on children 
The need for change in state response 
Chapter 13:Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families:
The legacy of strong state intervention 
The historical context: a very brief summary of a very important history 
Citizenship and acknowledgement 
Stolen generations 
The outcomes of child removal 
Recent legislation, policy and saying ‘sorry’ 
The Northern Territory Intervention 
Closing the gap 
Supporting Indigenous families and children 
Chapter 14:Early Education and Child Care Policy in Australia 
Early kindergartens and day nurseries 
Child Care Act 1972 (Cth) 
The Hawke and Keating Labor governments 
Privatisation and the growth of corporate child care 
A new start? Australia’s early childhood agenda 
Government assistance with child care costs 
Productivity Commission inquiry 
Implications of policy for children, families and communities 
Chapter 15:Children in Fragile Contexts: An International Perspective on Early Childhood in Emergency and Disaster Situations
Disruption and displacement 
The impact of climate change 
Exclusion and multiple layers of vulnerability 
Child refugees and asylum seekers 
The importance of inclusive contexts 
Impact of emergencies on young children 
Child and community participation 
Looking Forward
Chapter 16:Effective Policy to Support Children, Families and Communities 
Complex child and family needs and the importance of new service responses 
Research findings 
What are the policy implications of such findings? 
Communication, cooperation, and collaboration are easier said than done 
Success, scale, and sustainability: Keys to child- and family-focused initiatives 
Engaging families 
‘Hard-to-reach’ families, or ‘hard-to-access’ services? 
Engaging with children 
Policy into practice 
Children, families, and communities: Public health policy approaches 


Rebekah Grace: Senior Researcher and Macquarie University Vice Chancellor's Innovation Fellow, Institute of Early Childhood, Macquarie University 
Kerry Hodge: Honorary Associate in the Institute of Early Childhood, Macquarie University 
Catherine McMahon: Associate Professor, Centre for Emotional Health, Psychology Department, Macquarie University 


Elizabeth Adamson is a Research Fellow at the Social Policy Research Centre, University of New

South Wales. 

Rebecca Barton is a Lecturer in occupational therapy at the Faculty of Health Sciences and an associate

with the Centre for Disability Research and Policy, University of Sydney. 

Deborah Brennan is a Professor at the Social Policy Research Centre, University of New South


Abi Brooker is a Research Fellow at the Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education at the

University of Melbourne.

Anita Bundy is a Professor of Occupational Therapy and Head of Department at Colorado State

University, USA. 

Kate Burns is a lawyer with a background in human rights and international law. 

Kay Bussey is an Associate Professor in Psychology at Macquarie University.

Anna-Lisa Camberis is a psychologist working clinically with families from pregnancy through to

early childhood. 

Judy Cashmore is Professor of Socio-legal Research and Policy in the Faculty of Law, University

of Sydney and adjunct Professor in the Division of Arts, Southern Cross University. 

Kathy Cologon is a Senior Lecturer and researcher at the Institute of Early Childhood, Macquarie


Agnes Dodds is an Associate Professor of Medical Education in the Melbourne Medical School at the

University of Melbourne. 

Lina Engelen is a Research Fellow in the School of Public Health and Charles Perkins Centre, the

University of Sydney, Australia. 

Sally Fitzpatrick is a Postgraduate Researcher and Clinical Psychologist at the Centre for Emotional

Health, Macquarie University. 

Anne Grant has taught in the early childhood field, at both pre-school and primary level, for many

years, working with children who have a range of abilities from those identified as gifted through to

children with severe developmental delay. 

Linda Harrison is Professor of Early Childhood Education at Charles Sturt University and an Honorary

Fellow at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute. 

Alan Hayes is the Inaugural Distinguished Professor of Family Studies and Director of the Family Action

Centre within the Faculty of Health and Medicine at the University of Newcastle, Australia. 

Jacqueline Hayden has researched, served as a consultant to, and directed emergency and

development programs for young children around the globe, including in Rwanda, Haiti, Cambodia,

Namibia, Eastern Europe, and the Asia–Pacific region. 

Kate Highfield is an academic from Macquarie University. After working in schools for a decade Kate

currently lectures in the areas of technology, mathematics, and science. 

Jeanette Lawrence is a developmental psychologist and an Honorary Associate Professor in the

Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences at the University of Melbourne. 

Karen Menzies is a Lecturer with the Wollotuka Institute, University of Newcastle. 

Elizabeth Murray is Associate Head of School in the School of Teacher Education and Lecturer in early

childhood and primary education in the Faculty of Education, Charles Sturt University. 

Geraldine Naughton is a Professor in Paediatric Exercise Science at the Australian Catholic University.

Cathrine Neilsen-Hewett is the Director of the Early Years at the University of Wollongong and

has been a lecturer and researcher in early childhood for more than 18 years. 

Dorothy Scott holds Honorary Professor positions at both the University of South Australia and the

University of Melbourne.

Paul Tranter is an Honorary Associate Professor in Geography at UNSW Canberra (the Australian

Defence Force Academy), Australia. 

Rosalind Walsh is an ESL/English teacher who holds a MEd specialising in gifted education. 

Sarah Wise is a developmental researcher with many years of experience in research, policy and service

innovation covering a wide range of issues relating to children, parents and families. 

Sandie Wong is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Teacher Education, Charles Sturt University, where

she is also a member of the Research Institute for Professional Practice, Learning and Education. 

Wayne Warburton is a Senior Lecturer in developmental psychology and Deputy Director of the

Children and Families Research Centre at Macquarie University. 

Shirley Wyver is a Senior Lecturer in child development at the Institute of Early Childhood, Macquarie