It led to a project looking at what home meant for children whose parents had separated or divorced – children who potentially felt at home in two places. Or perhaps they lived across several houses and didn't feel at home in any of them.
First, she had to grapple with the question of ‘what is home?’. The answer suggests that the old idiom ‘where the heart is’ may not be far from the truth.
“What it’s not is bricks and mortar,” says Associate Professor Natalier. “Fundamentally, it's people's connections with other people.
“We spoke to one young girl, for example, whose parents had separated and her mum returned to her family home. Her dad was living in a shed with one room and all four kids were there.
“But she loved it. She had lots of space to ride her bike, she was there with her siblings, she really, really loved her dad and felt happy with him. So he managed to create a home for these kinds of shared experiences, some really small, mundane things, but they felt connected.”
A sense of home can also be born of routines that give a sense of control and wellbeing – the belief that you can rely on the same things happening over and over again, on a daily or weekly or even yearly basis.
“With one family, the kids and their mum watched MasterChef every evening after dinner, and the children described that as something that really made them feel at home. It was a shared experience even more important than shared rituals around Christmas or birthdays,” Associate Professor Natalier says
“For another boy, his dad let him keep his Xbox in the lounge room and they would play together. It was hugely important for him because it showed him that he was welcome in his dad's space, and that his dad wanted to be there with him.”
She says without that feeling of connectedness a young life can derail badly, reinforcing that home is important for a sense of security in the world around us.
“When we don't have home, it's really hard for us to build a sense of self or a sense of identity and a sense of place in the world,” Associate Professor Natalier says.
Evidence suggests it can also be hard to build connections with other people outside the family. Statistically, children in state care are more likely to end up in juvenile justice and adult detention, far more likely to face homelessness, and far more likely to face drug addiction.