Social, economic, technological and environmental change continues to impact our lives. Disruption is constant: the pace of change is so swift that in the words of Yuval Noah Harari ‘these days, every year is revolutionary’.

In this time of rapid transformation families continue to do the ‘heavy-lifting’. Families constantly adapt to the forces of external change while caring for each other, raising children, and contributing to the economy and community. In our state of permanent flux, have we collectively lost sight of what it means for families to have a good life?

‘Family policy’ is often considered a ‘soft’ area of policy. In reality it is anything but. Families are the engine room for the wellbeing and economic participation of our citizens from cradle to grave. But while families are impacted by all areas of domestic policy, it is rare to see systematic consideration of the impacts of policy on children and families. At the heart of society there is an imbalance. Governments rely on families to function well for a stable society and economy. Yet how well do our policy and service systems hold up their end of the bargain and provide the scaffolding families need so they can function well?

In an era where human-centred design and citizen-centred policy are the latest buzzwords, do we have the courage to listen carefully to the aspirations of families? And in so doing, aim to rebalance the equation so the system is serving families’ needs not vice versa.

So what makes for a ‘good life’? This seemingly simple question has dogged philosophers, economists, legislators and leaders through the ages. At the AIFS 2020 Conference, we tackle this question head on to ask:

  • What is a ‘good life’ in the face of rapid social, economic, technological and environmental change?
  • What is a ‘good life’ at different stages of our lives?
  • What do children, families and communities hope for?
  • How can we design service systems, institutions, policies & laws that help us to realise these aspirations?
  • What helps or hinders families to do their jobs of raising children, caring for each other and contributing to the economy and community?