FamilyVoice Australia confirms Say Yes fact check: “You provided the link…”

Image: FamilyVoice Australia logo. [Source: FamilyVoice Australia]

In an exchange on Twitter with prominent pro-equality campaigner Michael Barnett, FamilyVoice Australia was questioned about the recent Say Yes fact check on a letter penned by Roslyn Phillips that appeared in The Australian.

FamilyVoice has confirmed that the study cited by Phillips was the one we uncovered in our fact check on the matter.

Here’s the twitter exchange:



Michael Barnett ‏@mikeybear — Did @FamilyVoiceAust’s Roslyn Phillips bend study to fit letter against marriage equality? http://www.sayyes.org.au/naysayers/did-familyvoice-australias-roslyn-phillips-bend-study-to-fit-letter-against-marriage-equality/

FamilyVoiceAustralia ‏@FamilyVoiceAust — @mikeybear Ros simply wrote the truth that families headed by two natural married parents were safest by far on every measure.

Michael Barnett ‏@mikeybear — @FamilyVoiceAust What are the sources of her claims?

FamilyVoiceAustralia ‏@FamilyVoiceAust — @mikeybear You already provided that link. We are a pro-family group and that study shows good reasons for this stance.

In light of this new information, we need to amend our original conclusion, which was:


Phillips’ may have quoted from a US study that makes no claims about same-sex parenting, but inferred that non-heterosexual parenting is inferior and may lead to greater risks of harm, abuse and neglect to children.  This study we have found does not support those conclusions.

We will now update our original exposé to reflect the new information received from FamilyVoice Australia.

But now we have had it confirmed that the study cited was indeed the Fourth National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect (NIS–4): Report to Congress we have a few questions about why Phillips has cited this study in relation to her letter.

The questions for FamilyVoice or Roslyn Phillips:

In response to this revelation, we wrote to FamilyVoice Australia.  Here’s the correspondence.

Good evening:


We write to you to ask for a public response to some questions our website has in relation to Roslyn Phillips’ recent letter published in The Australian.


Recently, FamilyVoice Australia confirmed in an exchange on Twitter that the fact check we published on our website — in which we guessed which study Mrs Phillips was referring to — was correct.


That study is cited here:

Sedlak, A.J., Mettenburg, J., Basena, M., Petta, I., McPherson, K., Greene, A., and Li, S. (2010). Fourth National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect (NIS–4): Report to Congress. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families.


Given this, we have a number of questions we are inviting FAVA or Mrs Phillips to respond to on the public record.


  • Does FAVA or Mrs Phillips agree that the study does not make comment at all on same-sex parenting or marriage, or the impacts of such parenting arrangements on whether there is an increased risk of harm or abuse towards children within such families? If not, which parts of the study cited do you believe supports your interpretation or views?
  • Does FAVA or Mrs Phillips agree that the six groups mentioned in the study on page 12 not classify any families studied on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity of the parents? If you do not agree, which parts of the study cited do you believe supports your interpretation or views?
  • Does FAVA or Mrs Phillips concede that the letter likely misrepresented the actual findings of the study? If so, will FAVA or Mrs Phillips retract the claim and give a commitment to not misrepresenting this study in a similar fashion in the future? If not, why not?

As you can imagine, we are concerned that this study may have been misused to slur a whole slew of families — LGBTI families, blended families, single parent families, etc — and that the study’s authors may be concerned at the use of the study in this way.


We have therefore invited the authors of the study to also make comment on the letter and to answer similar questions as to their research findings, specifically in relation to LGBTI parenting and families.


We thank you in advance for your considered reply to our questions.

We’ve also popped an email over to one of the authors of the original study — Ms. Andrea J. Sedlak, PhD.


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