Growing Up in Australia
Newsletter No. 8, December 2004

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

Wave 1 Data Collection is Complete

Interviewing finally finished in November, with 10,086 families recruited to the study during 2004 - 5,100 families with infants and 4,986 families with a child aged 4-5 years. We are very pleased to have achieved our target of 10,000 families - thanks must go to the hard working interviewers and all the wonderful families they met.

Feedback from Interviewers

Interviewers were asked to send in feedback on their experiences with the study and, in addition, 5 focus groups were held in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth with interviewers who had worked in city, urban, rural and remote areas. The information they provided will be most useful for the second wave of data collection.

Interviewers really enjoyed working on the study and said:

'I loved meeting such a huge diversity of families and finding common ground'

'Families were warm; they made you welcome and shared their life'

'I enjoyed stepping into the world of a 4 year old full of life and excited to be part of the study'.

Wave 1 Response

All things considered, the response to the study can be considered very good. About 55% of families who were mailed an initial invitation from the Health Insurance Commission (HIC) are now part of the study. For families with whom the interviewer was able to make contact, about 80% agreed to take part. Final details of sample loss are still being calculated, but broadly the loss occurred as follows:

We are currently investigating any bias in the sample that may have occurred due to sample loss, by comparing characteristics of our study population with other sources of information on this population (such as ABS and HIC data). The results from this analysis will be taken into account in the weighting of the data. Information on the proposed weighting will be available early in the New Year.

Other Survey Material

Self-complete forms from parents, teachers and carers continue to be returned, but we anticipate cutting-off data receipt before Christmas, to allow a final clean input data file to be ready by early February.

Response rates to these other materials will be similar to those reported in the last newsletter. About 80-85% of the parents in the study are returning their self-complete forms and Time Use Diaries. Return rates from teachers and carers will end up a little lower than we had hoped, at around 60-65%.

Wave 1 Data Release

Data from the main study are due to be released to researchers and policy makers in April/May 2005. We are expecting to have the data dictionary online in time for data release, if not a little earlier.

In order to access the data, you will need to complete an application form which will be available from the Growing Up in Australia website. Your access has to be approved by the Department of Family and Community Services.

Symposium at AIFS Conference

The AIFS conference is on 9-11 February 2005 in Melbourne and a number of papers relating to Growing Up in Australia will be presented. A symposium is being held that will cover an overview of wave 1 content, a first glance at the wave 1 data, and plans for data analysis. A number of papers that feature preliminary data analysis, including one on the Outcome Index, will be presented in other sessions.

Long Term Research Program

In mid October, FaCS hosted a 2-day workshop to begin the development of a long-term research program that identifies potential data analysis projects using data from Growing Up in Australia. The program will be based on the Australian Government's requirements for policy related analysis and on the Key Research Questions that were posed for this study in its formative stages.

Between Waves Contact

In September we sent a short questionnaire to the 527 families who were part of the preliminary study in 2003. We asked for a few updates on the study child's progress and changes to their family and child care/schooling arrangements.

We have received completed questionnaires from over 70% of the families, and have been able to make contact with most of the others. This will make the task of locating the families for the wave 2 interviews in August/September 2005 a lot easier.

Information about the questions on parental leave and working conditions (the nested study by Dr Gillian Whitehouse) will be presented at the AIFS conference in early February 2005.

Wave 2 Development

Wave 2 development is happening at a rapid pace. Design Teams met by teleconference during September and October to propose the suite of measures that should be included in wave 2. This set includes items that need to be repeated, items that need to be replaced with age appropriate measures, and some new items.

Pre-testing has occurred for some of the new measures and testing will continue early in the New Year, culminating in a formal pilot test in March. The final set of items to be included in wave 2 will be decided in April/May 2005.

It is likely that Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing will be used for the main interview. This offers a lot of benefits in terms of data quality, though a longer lead time is needed for the programming requirements.

Staffing

We have three additions to the Project Operations Team. We are pleased to welcome back Emma White, as Survey Officer. Emma will work with the data collection agency and on marketing and communication issues. Anna Ferro has transferred from within AIFS and will be working with Linda Bencic on wave 2 development. And over the summer period, Jo Slater has joined us to help with sample weighting and other data management issues, in preparation for the wave 1 release.

Contact us

Now that data collection is complete, the wave 1 questionnaires are available on our website. If you would like to use these in any studies you are undertaking, please contact us so that we can ensure the appropriate copyrights are acknowledged.

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

Top