Growing Up in Australia
Newsletter No. 2, June 2003

Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, ISSN 1448-9147 (Online)

Update

This is the second in the series of newsletters to update the progress with Growing Up in Australia - the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children. Since our last newsletter in February, much has been happening, and we are now about to move into the first stage of the study.

Study testing

We completed a very successful pilot test in March-April this year. About 100 families were interviewed by staff from the Australian Institute of Family Studies and Colmar Brunton Social Research/NCS Pearson (the successful tenderers for the data collection). We really appreciated the cooperation of these families and associated child carers who provided extremely valuable information for refining all the study instruments.

Study instruments

All the instruments were refined after the pilot test, in preparation for the first stage of the study. The main interview with the parent will include interviewer-administered questionnaires about the family, parents and child. The parents will also have forms to complete themselves; this may be done while the interviewer takes the direct physical measures for the children (height, weight etc) and undertakes the assessment of school readiness and language for the 4 year old children.

Families will also be asked if they are willing to complete a Time Use Diary for the child and, for the babies, to take saliva samples that will be used to measure cortisol, a hormone related to health and well-being. They will also be asked for permission for us to contact any non-resident parent or child care provider.

All the pilot instruments were available on the website for a number of months, but have now been removed as they are no longer current. Updated versions of the instruments will be available shortly; please contact the Institute if you would like to access these.

The Next stage

The Health Insurance Commission has randomly selected about 1000 children in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, for the first stage of this study. An "invitation to participate" letter has been sent to the selected families, along with a brochure that explains what is involved in being part of Growing Up in Australia. (A copy of the brochure (PDF) is available on the website.) Selected families may opt-out of the study by reply-paid mail-back or by phoning a 1800 number.

Name and address information will only be passed to the Institute and NCS Pearson once families have been given a chance to consider whether they wish to take part.

Publicity

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Amanda Vanstone, will issue a media release to announce the first stage of the study. This will be supported by local media releases from government MPs and Senators in the areas covered by the first stage.

An intensive mail-out of posters and information leaflets has occurred to childcare centres, maternal and child health centres, pre-schools, and other services used by families, to let people know that the study is happening in their area. Examples of these in PDF are also available on the website (Poster, Leaflet ).

Data collection

The data collection for the first stage will take place during August and September 2003. Contact with child care providers and non-resident parents will continue into October. Information from this first stage will help in ensuring that everything goes smoothly when the main data collection starts in March 2004.

Staffing

Three staff members have joined or are about to join the Growing Up in Australia Project Operations Team (POT). They are:

Mary is here for a few months to organise all the promotion for the first and main stages of the study. Both Robert and Sebastian bring considerable research and information technology skills to ensure that the Growing Up in Australia data are processed as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Contact us

If you want further information on the Growing Up in Australia study, please visit our Web site at www.growingupinaustralia.gov.au/ or contact us.

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