Is Homework for Primary-Aged Children Beneficial?

Now that the school term is truly underway, parents once again face the issue of homework – assisting or coercing their children into completing their after-school tasks.

There has been much discourse recently in the media regarding the topic of homework. Educators, childhood experts and parents appear to have strong opinions on either side of the debate regarding its benefit. Proponents argue that homework assists in reinforcing classroom learning, strengthens parental involvement in their child’s learning and school curriculum and develops important life skills such as time-management and discipline. They do however emphasise for primary-aged children homework be limited to half an hour each week day, with weekends free of homework. They also encourage parents to promote a lifestyle for their children with adequate family time, rest, exercise and intellectual stimulation. One of the United States’ leading homework researchers, Harris Cooper states, "research on the effects of homework suggests that it is beneficial as long as teachers use their knowledge of developmental levels to guide policies and expectations" (Cooper, 2001).

On the other side of the fence, exponents assert that no study has ever demonstrated that homework in primary school leads to academic achievement. Alfie Kohn, an American author, lecturer and advocate for progressive education asserts that in his research, "there was no consistent linear or curvilinear relation between the amount of time spent on homework and the child's level of academic achievement" (Kohn, 2006). Exponents point to successful educational systems, such as that in Finland, where homework is minimal, and play and discovery time, considered the best form of learning for primary-aged children, is maximised. Exponents argue that often the schools’ motivation for homework can be driven by their desire to achieve higher ranking through standardised testing. Therefore, homework is set for the purpose of preparing their students for these tests through route learning, which has limited value in overall intellectual development. Advocates for a reduction in homework state that it could have the reverse effect of diminishing an interest in learning as well as a child’s sense of autonomy. Additionally, the impact that homework could have on quality family time, as well as contributing to strain on parent-child relationships, needs to be considered.

One thing both camps agree on with regards to homework, is that reading in after-school hours is highly beneficial – this can be a joyous, bonding time between parents and children, and provides both an opportunity for a child to practice their reading skills, listening and comprehension skills.

Whichever view you adopt in the homework debate, there is bound to be some measure of homework during each school week. So how can parents best assist their children in navigating the homework path? Education experts encourage parents to be a coach to their children, rather than the doers of their homework. Providing guidance rather than completing children’s homework for them, provides them the opportunity to experience both success and failure through their own efforts. This is turn builds both confidence in their abilities, as well as problem-solving skills and resilience by overcoming difficulties. Parents are also encouraged to examine the quality and significance of their children’s homework and speak up as necessary to teachers, the principal or school if they conclude that the meaningfulness or amount of homework given is questionable or unnecessary. Conversations with other parents in your child’s grade can also provide solidarity and leverage if it is necessary to addresses the issue with the school.

So whichever way the majority in this debate next swings, keep in mind that the important tasks as parents is to ensure that your children have a balanced lifestyle with adequate rest, play, exercise, learning and time with family; as well as asking the right questions regarding their homework and education and addressing concerns with their educators as necessary.

- Miriam Oh

Further reading:

• The Homework Myth (2007) by Alfie Kohn
• Rethinking Homework: Best Practices That Support Diverse Needs (2009) by Cathy Vatterott
• Does Homework Improve Academic Achievement? A Synthesis of the Research 1987–2003, the Review of Educational Research (2006) by Harris Cooper.
• The Battle over Homework: Common Ground for Administrators, Teachers, and Parents (2001) by Harris Cooper.

Close the gap in gener inequality

On International Women’s Day, leading community organisation Connections UnitingCare and national anti-violence initiative, Our Watch believe ending gender inequality is going to require bold action by all Victorian workplaces.

“We spend a lot of time in the workplace and with that, people tend to take on the culture, norms and values of their organisation both in their professional lives and private lives too,” said Connections Chief Executive Officer, Angela Forbes.

Ms Forbes pointed to the results of a report recently released by the Victorian Trades Hall Council titled ‘Stop Gendered Violence at Work’, in which 64% of respondents reported experiencing bullying, harassment or violence in the workplace, and 44% reported having experienced discrimination at work.

“As a woman, it is disappointing that so many of my contemporaries are made to feel disrespected and fearful in their current workplace,” said Ms Forbes.

Connections is one of four and the only community organisation piloting Our Watch’s Workplace Equality and Respect Project (WERP). Under the pilot, each participating organisation will examine how its workplace reinforces gender stereotypes, whose voices are prioritised in decision-making, whether there are flexible workplace policies for both parents and how comfortable staff feel in raising concerns.

“We think, as a community service organisation with a strong reputation in the community, we can use our status and our influence to enter into public conversations about preventing violence against women and support a workplace where we have conversations about gender equality,” said Ms Forbes.

“Core to the philosophy of our programs is our belief that we have an absolute commitment to prevent violence against women, and consequently, children,” said Ms Forbes.

Connections supports more than 2,000 clients and employs approximately 400 staff. Ms Forbes said it was important gender equality is carried through from their community programs into the workplace

“We help staff make the link between gender equality and preventing violence to women. We encourage everyone to be bold this International Women’s Day.

Our Watch Chief Executive Officer, Mary Barry echoed Ms Forbes thoughts and encouraged all workplaces to #BeBoldForChange this International Women’s Day.

“Workplaces have an important role to play in creating an Australia where women are respected and treated as equals in private and public life,” said Ms Barry.

“The leadership of individual workplaces is vital to build momentum to prevent violence against women. Connections is a great example of a bold organisation working to embed gender equality in their culture, practice and conditions.

Both Ms Forbes and Ms Barry believe “the time to make this change is now”.

If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit In an emergency, call 000. For more information about a service in your state or local area download the DAISY App in the App Store or Google Play.

Media: Connections’ Chief Executive Officer Angela Forbes is available for interview. Contact Connections’ Manager, Communications, Development & Events, Kirrilee Torney on or 0409 513 432

A copy of the ‘Stop Gendered Violence at Work’ report is available from VTHC; please contact Prof. Lisa Heap at

Searching for families

Permanent homes needed for young children aged 6-13.

We are appealing to the local community to help find loving, nurturing and devoted homes for six children through our Permanent Care program.

Connections’ Permanent Care program facilitates the placement of children, who are unable to live with their family of origin, due to risk or experience of serious abuse, neglect or harm.

Leading the appeal is Connections’ Program Leader, Out of Home Care, Prue Walker, who believes that many members of the local community are unaware of the need for permanent care families, particularly for older children and siblings.

It is important that couples wanting to start a family realise there are other options out there that exist beyond traditional methods,” said Ms Walker.

“All of the children who come through our program are longing for loving and caring families. They each have their own unique stories but unfortunately, they have all had an unstable start to their lives.

“These children are craving the security and stability of a loving home that many of us take for granted.

“We are calling out to anybody who thinks they may have room in their lives to provide these special children with a home, to make contact with us today,” said Ms Walker.

Connections is holding an information session on Tuesday 7 March for anyone interested in becoming a Permanent Carer and want to learn more about the program.

“Ensuring that every child has a safe, stable, secure and caring family should be of fundamental importance to our community,” Ms Walker said.

For more information about Connections Permanent Care program visit

Event details: Permanent Care Information Session: Tuesday 7 March, 6:00pm – 8:00pm. Hampton Park Uniting Church, 1 Coral Drive. Registration essential. Call 03 9521 5666

Trauma and Differential Diagnosis

This forum aims to enhance practice and client outcomes by generating lively and informative conversations through expert presentations and an interactive case-study and panel discussion.

This practice forum will support and enhance the skills and knowledge required by health and community services professionals working with children, young people, and families. It will consider and explore the, at times, overlapping presentations of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), and Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) in the context of a trauma history.


Friday 12 May 2017

Department of Health and Human Services
165-169 Thomas Street, Dandenong, Victoria 3175


Tymur Hussein    

To book your ticket, click here. 


9:00am -   Registrations
9:20am -   Welcome 
9:30am -   FASD Presentation; ASD Presentation; ADHD Presentation; RAD Presentation 
10:50am - Morning Tea 
11:10am -  Case Study (small group work)
11:50am -  Panel Discussion
12:30am -  Close


  • Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) - Prue Walker
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) - Sonia Street
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) – Tim Doyle
  • Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) - Adela Holmes

For more information about our speakers,Trauma and Differential Diagnosis speaker list.pdf

12 May 2017

UnitingCare Pancake Day

It’s fun, easy and it’s making a big difference! Oh, and it involves PANCAKES!

Every year people come together for UnitingCare Pancake Day to flip for a good cause. The reality is that 1 in 7 Australians are living in poverty with 1 in 6 children affected, that’s 2.9 million Australians too many. By hosting your very own Pancake Day event, you will be helping Australians living in crisis including those suffering homelessness, domestic violence, addictions and financial hardship.

Join us this year at Federation Square on 28 February. Pancakes will be on from 8am – 2pm. Money raised on the day will support the UnitingCare network, assisting those experiencing marginalisation and disadvantage. 

When: Tuesday 28 February 

Where: Federation Square, Melbourne

Time: 8:00am - 2:00pm

Pancake Day


28 Feb 2017

South Eastern Chances - Apply now

Applications are now open for the first round of funding for Connections’ South Eastern Chances Scholarship program.

South Eastern Chances aims to support and unlock the potential of motivated young people who have an obvious talent by providing them with the financial assistance needed to enable them to pursue their dreams.

Scholarships are available up to $1,500 in value.

To be eligible for a scholarship, you must:

> Demonstrate low income by possessing a current health care card or be eligible to apply for one;
> Have the support of a parent or guardian if under the age of 16;
> Provide evidence of your talent or passion in a particular area;
> Ensure that your application directly links to your career aspirations; and
> Live in the following local government areas:
       • Bayside
       • Boroondara
       • Cardinia
       • Casey
       • Frankston
       • Glen Eira
       • Greater Dandenong
       • Kingston
       • Knox
       • Manningham
       • Maroondah
       • Monash
       • Mornington Peninsula
       • Stonnington
       • Whitehorse
       • Yarra Ranges

Please ensure each element of the application has been completed before submitting. This includes providing any information which can be used as supporting evidence. This can include letters of support from relevant sources and certificates of your achievements so far.

  • To discuss new or pending applications, please contact Community Relations on 03 8792 8999. To find out more or to apply, click here.
  • To read how South Eastern Chances can change your life, click here


Uniting established as new community service agency in Victoria and Tasmania

Uniting is the new community services organisation to be formed from 21 UnitingCare agencies and Wesley Mission Victoria.

Uniting (Victoria and Tasmania) Limited was established and governance for all 22 agencies was unified under a single Board on 3 October 2016.

This is an exciting first step in moving from a network of separate agencies to a single organisation.

An experienced, skills based team will lead the design and build of the emerging organisation. The Uniting Board will be chaired by former Victorian Health Minister Bronwyn Pike. Paul Linossier, previously the CEO of Wesley Mission Victoria, is the inaugural Chief Executive Officer. Mr Linossier has more than three decades experience in leading organisational change and systems reform while maintaining a strong commitment to marginalised and vulnerable people.

The founding agencies to Uniting have a rich history of care, support and community partnerships. Mr Linossier said. “Together we can do more. We will have a stronger advocacy voice and we will have access to broader resources and skills to meet clients’ needs. This change provides the best opportunity for us to continue our important work in the community for many years to come.”

The move to the single organisation has just started. Each agency will continue the same quality services, with the same dedicated staff and commitment to care while work to shape the new organisation progresses. The merger is expected to be complete by mid-2017.

Uniting will be one of the largest community service providers operating in Victoria and Tasmania.

Uniting is all about working together to inspire people, enliven communities and confront injustice.” Mr Linossier said. “We are Uniting to have greater impact.

New Uniting Church agency announces inaugural CEO

Experienced public sector and community services professional Paul Linossier has been appointed as the inaugural Chief Executive Officer of the new Uniting Church community services organisation.

The new organisation will be formed from the merger of 20 UnitingCare agencies and Wesley Mission Victoria (WMV). It will be one of the largest community service providers operating in Victoria and Tasmania.

The network of UnitingCare agencies and WMV operate across metropolitan, regional and remote parts of Victoria and Tasmania offering a broad range of services and advocacy to support thousands of vulnerable people.

With a combined annual budget of about $237 million, over 3,500 staff and 4000 volunteers, the services of the new organisation will include emergency relief, financial counselling, housing and homelessness services, employment services, early childhood services, child, youth and family services, disability services, mental health services, non-residential aged care and alcohol and other drugs services and Lifeline.

Mr Linossier, currently the CEO of WMV, has more than three decades experience in leading organisational change and systems reform while maintaining a strong commitment to marginalised and vulnerable people.

Inaugural Board Chair Bronwyn Pike said she was delighted that Mr Linossier had agreed to lead the new organisation given his broad experience.

“Paul is highly regarded in the public and community services sectors with a significant background in Uniting Church and other community service agencies, as well as experience in state government,” she said.

“He will bring to the organisation important skills in the areas of strategic planning and organisational review, which will be important as we seek to establish the new organisation.”

Mr Linossier said he was both humbled and excited by the challenge of leading the new agency.

“UnitingCare agencies have a long history of supporting vulnerable Victorians and Tasmanians,” he said.

“As one unified agency and ministry of the Uniting Church Synod of Victoria and Tasmania this vital support will now be expanded and strengthened. I am proud to be working together with our agency leaders, dedicated staff, volunteers and community partners to continue to serve and advocate alongside those most in need.”

Mr Linossier begins in the position on Monday 22nd August, 2016.

Aspiring teens dream big and aim for gold

Not letting a disability stop them from competing at the highest level, Casey residents, Alefosioi Laki (19) and Jack Howell (12) are well on their way to the Paralympics, with thanks to Connections UnitingCare and Member for Narre Warren, Judith Graley MP.

Connections’ South Eastern Chances program provides financial support to young people up to the age of 25 living in Melbourne’s south east to pursue their dreams and academic ability. The program aims to unlock the potential of motivated young people who have an obvious talent in a particular field but whose financial situation is preventing them from succeeding.

For young Hampton Park man, Alefosio, affectionately known as Sio, suffering from Cerebral Palsy, was never going to stop him from living his dream. With the support of South Eastern Chances, Sio, will get his opportunity, being selected to represent Samoa in the Discus at the upcoming Paralympics.

Like Sio, Jack (12) has also caught the eye of the Australian Paralympic team and has been touted as an athlete with potential Paralympic pathways. Jack, born with one hand, has been selected and will represent Victoria at the upcoming National School Swimming Championships in September.

Supporting both Sio and Jack’s application to the program was Member for Narre Warren, Ms Judith Graley MP, who believes it is important that programs such as this exist to give young people the best possible chance in life.  

“Both Jack and Sio are outstanding young men who are amazing leaders in our community, who I knew would undoubtedly excel if they were given the opportunities which might have been restricted because of their family’s financial situation.

“I commend Connections for offering such a wonderful program which really gives young people the chance to shine and achieve their dreams,” said Ms Graley.

Connections’ Manager, Communications, Development & Events, Kirrilee Torney, echoed Ms Graley’s thoughts and said that for many families in our community, being able to afford the basic necessities of life is a struggle, let alone being able to support opportunities which may arise for their children.

“Providing the support necessary for young people to unlock their true potential is vital in the work that we do,” said Ms Torney.

“We believe in investing in the future of young people and by doing so, we believe we are helping them to build a better future for themselves and for the local community. Through South Eastern Chances we aim to alleviate some of this pressure by giving young people the opportunity to shine without the financial burden,” said Ms Torney.

To learn more about the program visit


Prioritise investment in vulnerable people

UnitingCare Australia calls on re-elected government to prioritise investment in vulnerable people.

UnitingCare Australia has congratulated the Turnbull Government on its election victory and calls on the Prime Minister to lead renewed efforts to address key issues affecting the lives of vulnerable and disadvantaged Australians.

“We believe that the close election result has demonstrated that a focus on jobs, growth and business, while vital, is too one-dimensional for our community,” UnitingCare Australia National Committee Chair, Peter Bicknell said.

“This term is an opportunity for the Government to increase investment in people and the services needed to grow productivity and build a decent future for all.

“We particularly encourage the Government to commit to new directions in aged care funding, housing affordability and homelessness, unemployment, and early childhood education,” Mr Bicknell said.

Martin J Cowling, Acting National Director said the Government’s proposed $1.2billion cuts to aged care funding announced in the May Budget are of grave concern to UnitingCare Australia.

“We call on the Prime Minister and Treasurer to halt the cuts and to work collaboratively with the aged care sector to identify sustainable options for meeting the health care needs of older people in care,” he said.

Peter Bicknell said enabling every person, regardless of age, ability, or employment status to make a full contribution to society is the key to national prosperity.

“Jobs, growth, tax reform, and investment in essential services are all needed to ensure that everyone can participate in and contribute to their community.

“UnitingCare Australia is committed to working constructively with the Government, Opposition, Independents and minor parties over this next term of parliament,” Mr Bicknell said today.

For more information, visit


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