Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Master of Social Science


Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Supervisor

Dr Irene Froyland

Second Supervisor

Lisbeth Pike


This study explores the Jived experience of a group of women, geographically isolated from their extended family, as they establish their new support networks. It is based on the assumption that the shape and structure of families are constantly changing and evolving and this change in family structure impacts on both the parents and the children. One of the significant changes families are experiencing is the increasing isolation of the nuclear family from traditional family networks. It is the purpose of this study to explore the experience of this group of women to identify how the members establish their support networks. It determines the process they used in developing these networks and discovers the essential elements which contributed to the formation of new networks. The women participating in the study have all moved to Western Australia and as a result are isolated from their extended family. They all have at least one pre school aged child, speak English and have been involved in a self-help group for families separated from their extended family. A phenomenological approach was adopted to explore how this specific group of women in this situation has established their new support networks. The aim is to explore this phenomenon from the participant's perspective. A small sample of participants was selected from the self-help group with the help of a key informant. The data were collected over an extended period using in depth interviews. Each interview was transcribed and analysed for themes and concepts. These were taken back to the participants for verification. The findings have been reported using the narrative style as this is a style that fits comfortably with women. The narratives were verified by the individual participants as a true account of their experience. The themes extracted from all the participants are also reported and verified by the individual participants. The themes answer the questions of how these women establish their networks and what influences and affects the formation of these new networks. This study has implications for both policy and practice. It identifies areas where policy needs to be reviewed in order for additional funding to be provided to current health services so that they can continue with current services and expand these. Other services need to provide alternate models in order to meet the needs of various clientele. Services need to become more responsive to the community in order to meet their current needs. Additionally, some new and alternate services could be explored in order to meet the needs of this particular group. The need for further research has been highlighted by this study in the area of NESB migrants and their establishment of new networks, mothers of older school age children and those in full time employment trying to establish networks. In general the role of women in establishing networks within families still needs further researching. This study has identified some important factors in the establishment of networks by mothers of pre-school children, who are geographically isolated from their extended family.