A WIMMERA-BASED study has looked at the impacts of working and learning from home for families in the region.
The Wimmera Development Association report aimed to understand people's learning experiences and work from home during the first lockdown of March 2020 - looking at how households balanced work and home life, supervised children, and digital literacy.
The report found women overwhelmingly delivered learning for home education while juggling work-study commitments with their child's education responsibilities.
Project leader, social and economic researcher Dr Cathy Tischler, said learning from home created many new factors for parents.
"Our work found that while some families were able to share the load, it was predominantly women taking the brunt of the work of caring for children," Dr Tischler said.
"There are a range of factors at play here, including the nature and expectations of work in the region - but the stress of this additional responsibility on one member of the household was identifiable in the research."
Dr Tischler said she reported a "significant" variation in how schools communicated with caregivers and provided educational support. Some parents returned their child to school as learning from home became too complex or unworkable.
"The focus of schools appeared to shift - at least from a parents perspective - and be strongly about the provision of curriculum. For some schools, the social welfare and support elements of education dropped off and the role of teaching became strictly about information transfer," Dr Tischler said.
"Learning from home was labour intensive for parents of younger children and more than half of all families reported spending six or more hours supporting their children with learning from home."
The study also looked at digital literacy and internet access - particularly in low socio-economic households, small businesses and migrant families.
"There was a lot of perseverance by families coping with poor or intermittent internet connection; some incurring significant additional costs to ensure they had the technology and access they needed," Dr Tischler said.
"Costs which ranged from hundreds of dollars to around $3000. But paying more for internet didn't necessarily drive better results."
The study recommended further consideration for ensuring educational and linked social welfare support and the quality of support has consistency across the region.
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