Document Type

Conference Proceeding


Australian and New Zealand Communication Association


School of Arts and Humanities / Centre for Learning and Teaching / Centre for Research in Entertainment, Arts, Technology, Education and Communications




Australian Research Council

Grant Number

ARC Number : LP140100935


Stevenson, K. & Green, L. (2017, July). Voicing a new life narrative: Communicating the dynamics of change in a welfare-dependent family. In Refereed Proceedings of the Australian and New Zealand Communication Association Conference 2017 - Communication Worlds: Access, Voice, Diversity, Engagement.


The Hand Up Linkage project focuses on the family as a communication context through which to explore the dynamics of intergenerational welfare dependency. It is concerned with how persistent barriers to escaping welfare dependency are perceived and how attitudes to change are constructed through communication within the family. Interviews are conducted with families reliant on welfare support with the view of identifying ‘emotionally compelling experiences and realizations’ (King et al., 2003, p.184) through which families construct meaning about their place in the world. These interviews give voice to people experiencing the challenges and consolations of reliance on welfare, encouraging them to be active contributors to perceptions of people in need. This article explores the way one mother from a disadvantaged family is rebuilding her life despite the disadvantages of poverty, domestic violence and drug dependency. It examines her determined emotional commitment to change as she explains the barriers to change that she has experienced. As she communicates her life narrative, she builds for herself and her children an understanding of a different possible future in which she and her children have access to a more independent, positive life experience. Seligman (2006) suggests that changing self-talk helps people to escape from pessimism and move from powerlessness to autonomy and hope. This mother makes powerful declarations about her life changes with the aim of providing her children with a vision of a more hopeful future. This article contributes the often-silenced voice of a welfare-reliant woman to a discussion of different worlds of communication, and opens a window on diversities of engagement with these worlds.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike Australia 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Australia License.