Journal Article

The gendered framing of Australia’s child support reforms

Kay Cook and Kristin Natalier

in International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family

Volume 27, issue 1, pages 28-50
Published in print April 2013 | ISSN: 1360-9939
Published online February 2013 | e-ISSN: 1464-3707 | DOI:
The gendered framing of Australia’s child support reforms

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In Australia, as in other jurisdictions, child support has become a political hot topic, and one with the potential to deepen and challenge socio-legal understandings of masculinity, autonomy, and the legal construction of the ‘father figure’. However, to date sociological work on child support reform in Australia has focused on describing manifest outcomes, with far less emphasis on analysing the latent framing of child support as a policy issue. In this article we applied Bacchi’s (1999) concept of framing to Gale’s (1999) concept of policy trajectory analysis to analyse the connections and disconnections between recommendations made in the child support section of the 2003 Inquiry into Child Custody, the subsequent 2005 Ministerial Taskforce on Child Support report responding to those recommendations, and the resultant 2006–2008 legislative child support amendments. The framing of child support reflected more than a response to men’s rights activists’ claims that the previous child support scheme asked men to pay too much and was not fair. It reinforced the socio-legal construction of men as autonomous and financially and emotionally self-reliant subjects who control their lives and finances. Child support is represented as less a financial question and more a question of masculinity and identity in changing family structures and relations.

Journal Article.  8540 words. 

Subjects: Family Law ; Marriage and the Family

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