Director of UniSA's Centre for Work + Life, Professor Barbara Pocock says we need to understand clearly where there are stress points, if we are to make effective policy for now and the for future families.
"We know we need more people in the workforce but we also need to support them to encourage that participation without disadvantaging children and other dependents," Professor Pocock says.
"That's where policy is really lagging behind."
Right now data is being collected from a random group of 1400 Australians. Professor Pocock says the results of the Index will help draw policy makers' attention to the issues, identify where action is needed the most, and monitor where new policies make a difference.
"A lot of governments are trying to think about how changes at work are affecting how people live and while some countries have good data on these issues, it's really missing in the Australian context," Prof Pocock says.
"We're planning to collect data every year and compare changes over time. Our data will let us compare different workers by age, industry, and whether or not they have children, to see where the imbalances are most pronounced so that we can inform policy as it is being developed."
The creation of the Australian Work and Life Index is part of an on-going partnership with the governments of South Australia and Western Australian and Lend Lease Communities. The results, which are expected mid-year, will feed into the South Australia Strategic Plan.
The Centre for Work + Life is a research group within UniSA's Hawke Research Institute for Sustainable Societies.