Annual Report 2006‚Äď2007

Wave 2 snapshot

The following information is from the Wave 2 data collection and refers to all children in the study unless specified otherwise.

Children's health

Most parents said that their child was in good to excellent health. However, one in four children (24 per cent) aged 6-7 years had been diagnosed with asthma, and 66 per cent of these children had taken medication for this condition in the previous 12 months. Fewer children aged 2-3 years had been diagnosed with asthma (15 per cent), although 80 per cent of these had taken medication within the previous 12 months.

A third of children had experienced other medical conditions in the previous 12 months, with eczema, food allergies and ear infections being the most common. One in five children had required medical attention from a doctor or hospital in the previous 12 months because of injury. The most common types of injuries requiring medical attention were cuts or scrapes, and broken or fractured bones.

Five per cent of children aged 6-7 years needed to stay in hospital for one night or more due to illness. The most common reasons were tonsillectomy and/or adenoidectomy, asthma, and fever or viral illnesses. Nine per cent of children aged 2-3 years needed to stay in hospital for one night or more due to illness. The most common reasons for these children were fever or viral illnesses, asthma and gastroenteritis.

Sleeping

Nearly all parents reported that their child always or usually went to bed at a regular time. One in four parents of children aged 6-7 years and two in five parents of children aged 2-3 years said their child's sleeping was a problem. The most common problem was waking during the night, followed by not being happy sleeping alone, and difficulty falling asleep at night.

Some parents also reported problems with their own sleep - 23 per cent of parents said their quality of sleep was fairly bad to very bad, and 33 per cent of parents said their sleep quality was adequate. The other 44 per cent said their sleep quality was fairly good to very good.

Parents' health

Two-thirds of both mothers and fathers said their health was very good to excellent. However, only ten per cent of all parents reported that they had no problems or stresses in their lives.

Working lives

Fifty-five per cent of mothers with a child aged 2-3 years and 64 per cent of mothers with a child aged 6-7 years were employed. Only three per cent were unemployed and looking for work. Almost all fathers (93 per cent) were employed. Of the parents in paid work, 88 per cent reported that they felt secure in their job.

Neighbourhood

Overall, families seemed happy with where they lived - 87 per cent of parents said their neighbourhood was a good place to bring up their child. Four-fifths of parents agreed that their neighbourhood was safe for children to play outside, and 95 per cent agreed that their neighbourhood was clean. Four out of five parents said that there were good parks, playgrounds and play spaces in their neighbourhood.

Children's activities at home

Children participated in many different activities at home during the week before the interview, as shown in Figures 2 and 3.

Over 85 per cent of 2-3 year old children, while in the company of an adult, participated at least once during the week in almost all of the activities shown in Figure 2. The only exception was being "Told a story, not from a book", where this happened for only 60 per cent of 2-3 year old children.

Participation rates were around 10-20 per cent lower for the 6-7 year old children for almost all of the activities shown in Figure 2. The main exception was "Involved in cooking or caring for pets", where the participation rate for the older children was slightly higher than for the younger ones.

Figure 2 - Children's activities at home with adult in week before interview

Figure 2

Source: Growing Up in Australia, Wave 2

When children have a choice about how to spend their time, over 40 per cent of children were just as likely to chose active as inactive pastimes (see Figure 3). For the 2-3 year old children, more children were likely to chose active than inactive pastimes (36 per cent versus 20 per cent), whereas for the 6-7 year old children, about an equal proportion of children were likely to chose active and inactive pastimes (close to 30 per cent for each).

Figure 3 - What child usually does when having a choice about how to spend free time

Figure 3

Source: Growing Up in Australia, Wave 2

Separated families

About 17 per cent of the study children had a biological parent not living with them. Resident parents reported that, of the parents who were not living with the child at the time of interview, 33 per cent usually saw their child once per week, and 9 per cent usually saw their child every day.

Half of the parents still living with the study child said they got along well or very well with the child's non-resident parent. However, a quarter of the parents still living with the study child said they got along poorly or very poorly with the child's other parent.

Schooling

Twenty-seven per cent of 6-7 year old children were enrolled in Year 2, a further 68 per cent were enrolled in Year 1, and about four per cent were in pre-school programs.

Child care

Almost seven in ten children aged 2-3 years were receiving some type of regular non-parental child care. The most common form of child care was with day care centres (43 per cent of 2-3 year olds), followed by maternal grandparents (13 per cent), family day care (8 per cent) and paternal grandparents (7 per cent).

Children's responses

In the Wave 2 Growing Up in Australia interview, 6-7 year old children were asked a short set of questions about what they thought about school and how they felt overall.

Half of the children said they felt happy about going to school when they got up in the morning, a third of children said they felt happy sometimes, and one-fifth said they didn't feel happy about going to school. Seven out of ten children said that they enjoyed reading and writing and felt they were doing well at school. Eight out of ten children felt that their teacher was nice to them.

About two-thirds of children said that they felt happy lots of the time, with a further quarter saying they sometimes felt happy. Almost forty per cent of children said that they were hardly ever scared or worried, with 13 per cent saying they felt scared or worried lots of the time.

Three-quarters of children said they had a pet. About 39 per cent reported having a dog, 12 per cent having a cat and a further 9 per cent reported having both.

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