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I would also very much like one!!!
|Letter - Threshold Magazine|
It was extremely encouraging to see a complete edition of Threshold devoted to stepfamily issues. I would like to share with you for a moment what we have been developing over the past four years. That is using the internet as a means of providing information and support to stepfamilies across Australia.
In 1997 we established our first website, with the sole aim of providing free information and support to stepfamilies in Australia. In the past four years our website has seen many changes and improvements and also an increase in the number of various services provided “online.”
Our website was the first Australian website devoted to stepfamily issues. Since then other websites have been developed providing information, these include Parenting SA who produce numerous Parent Easy Guides (PEGS) including one for stepfamilies. Family and Community Services in Western Australia have an excellent website with the “Living in” series. Just recently the Stepfamily Association of Victoria have developed their new website and very shortly we will see another stepfamily website originating from New South Wales.
We know that Australians embrace technology with a passion and the internet is no exception, with the number of adults accessing the internet at home rising to 4 million in 2000, compared with 2.4 million in 1999.
What has been our experience? Using the month of October as an example, we received an average of 50 visitors per day to the site, 50% of those visitors were from within Australia. Therefore in the course of one year we can expect to have just over 9,000 visitors from within Australia looking at over 90,000 pages of information. We are also witnessing an increasing number of repeat visitors (those returning to the site for further information), at the rate of 10 per day.
The most popular sections of our website are our support section, articles and our newsletters. Through the support section stepparents are able to access online counselling (where they can receive a response within 24 hours), discussion groups, mailing lists and also join our online stepfamily community. Individuals are able to download all of our newsletters since 1997. Our most recent newsletters are now available in PDF. However, it is not just stepfamilies who can access this material, but also professionals who are requiring information to distribute to their clients. We have received numerous comments from counselors, social workers, community workers and other professional people who are able to download information from our site for their clients.
As many organisations struggle to provide Stepparenting courses and run support groups for stepfamilies (due to the lack of numbers), our website continues to grow steadily. The internet does have a major role in providing information and support, to allow stepfamilies to reach their full potential.