Children who are raised in households with same-sex parents are more likely to lead healthier lives, according to preliminary findings of a new study. Australian researchers at the University of Melbourne found that children of gay parents not only are healthier overall, but also are more likely to get along with the rest of their family unit.

Conducted by Simon R. Crouch, Elizabeth Water, Ruth McNair, Jennifer Power and Elise Davis, the study looked at data on 500 Australian children below the age of 18. Among their findings, researchers concluded that factors such as self-esteem, emotional behavior and time spent with parents does not vary between children of same-sex and heterosexual couples. However, researchers did find a high level of health and family cohesion in children of gay and lesbian couples.

The researchers attributed at least some of the increase in the overall wellness of those children to heightened abilities on the part of same-sex parents, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. Lead researcher Crouch hypothesized that because gay parents are more likely to have experienced being ostracized or teased, they’re better equipped to talk about similar issues with their children.

“Because of the situation that same-sex families find themselves in, they are generally more willing to communicate and approach the issues that any child may face at school, like teasing or bullying,” Crouch said. “This fosters openness and means children tend to be more resilient. That would be our hypothesis.”

Crouch added that the ongoing study will investigate whether children of gay parents’ health and wellbeing is affected by discrimination toward their families. “This can range from poorly informed comments to teasing, bullying, overt homophobia and rejection,” Crouch said.

The study comes just one month after former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced he had shifted his opinion on same-sex marriage. The former PM noted in a blog post that he had been gradually leaning toward supporting gay marriage for years, but that the final straw had been learning that such unions were not detrimental to children’s development.

“My core interest is to be clear-cut about the change in my position locally on this highly controversial issue before the next election, so that my constituents are fully aware of my position when they next visit the ballot box. That, I believe, is the right thing to do,” Rudd said. He went on to note that 27 percent of children in Australia are currently raised by single parents, and that research comparing children raised by gay couples has not provided “child behavior checklist differences.”