Growing Up in Australia
Newsletter No.¬†3, September 2003
Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, ISSN 1448-9147 (Online)
First Stage of Study Commences
In late June 2003 over 1000 families in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, selected at random from 25 postcodes from the Medicare database by the Health Insurance Commission, were sent an 'invitation to participate' in the first stage of the study.
About half the postcodes were selected at random; the other half were selected to test procedures and instruments in areas that were likely to present data collection challenges, such as inner city and remote areas.
About 12 per cent of these families contacted HIC declining this offer. Contact details for about 900 families were passed to the data collection agency, NCS Pearson, using strict security processes.
During July, 20 field interviewers and supervisors attended a 3-day comprehensive residential training course in Melbourne. The training featured practice interviewers with 'real' families, as well as sessions from psychologists, health and other professionals on the 'Who am I?' and Peabody Picture Vocabulary tests, taking physical measures and saliva samples, and the Time Use Diary.
Interviewing started in mid August and will continue to the end of September. It is expected that about 500 interviews will result. This response is lower than expected for the main wave next year, because of the higher proportion of 'difficult to contact' areas included in this first stage.
Both the interviewers and the families who have chosen to take part in the study appear to be really enjoying it. Feedback from the first interviewer debriefing session included comments such as 'this is the best interviewing job I have ever had', 'really enjoying it', 'people have enjoyed it', 'families are lovely and are looking forward to next time', 'it's great', and so on.
The most common reasons families are giving for not taking part are that they are too busy (for example, they have lots of young children and just can't find the time), they are concerned about their privacy, there is illness in the family, and they are just not interested and cannot see how they will benefit from the study. More refusals seem to come from the resident fathers and families from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. We are looking at strategies to encourage these families to take part.
Teachers, Carers and Parents not Resident with Child
The mail-out of questionnaires to teachers, carers and parents not resident with the study child is now underway. Most of the 4 year old children are attending pre-school or the equivalent, and almost all families have agreed to the teachers being contacted. Only a small per cent of 4 year olds are in other childcare situations. About 20 per cent of the infants surveyed so far have non-parental child care for 8 hours or more a week (roughly equal numbers of centre and home based care), and almost all parents have agreed for these carers to be contacted. There are insufficient data at this stage to comment on numbers and contact rates for parents not resident with their child.
Publicity and Dissemination
The second Discussion paper Growing Up in Australia - the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children: Proposed Study Design and Wave 1 Data Collection was released in early July 2003 and is available on the Web site.
A symposium on the study was held at the Australasian Human Development Conference in Auckland in July 2003 and the Project Director, Ann Sanson, has visited the UK and Europe, making contact with the Directors of the Millennium Cohort Study and other longitudinal studies that are in progress overseas.
The study is likely to be officially launched by the Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Amanda Vanstone, in January. Some women's magazines have expressed interest in featuring Growing Up in Australia families in an article, and the possibility of this is being investigated. We are also considering asking a well-known personality to sponsor the study. We intend to make use of as many avenues as is feasible and affordable to publicise the study. If you have ideas for publicity or can help with this, please contact the LSAC team.
We very sadly say goodbye to Emma White, who has been the Survey Officer for the Project Operations Team for the last year. Emma has been a wonderful team member, but is now returning to her previous position in the Victorian Government. We welcome Dr Alex Fraser to the team as the new Survey Officer. Alex has recently completed her doctorate in Sociology and has been working at the Brotherhood of St Laurence.