Growing Up in Australia
Newsletter No. 11, December 2005
Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, ISSN 1448-9147 (Online)
Season's Greetings from the Growing Up in Australia project team at the Australian Institute of Family Studies! It has been another busy year for the study and this newsletter provides you with an update on what has been happening and what is in store for next year.
Wave 2 development
The first stage of Wave 2 data collection for Growing Up in Australia is now underway. Over 400 families were interviewed in October and November, but most families will be interviewed for the second time during March to September next year.
Wave 2 data collection involves a 45-minute computer assisted interview with the parent who knows the child best. This parent also fills in a short self-complete form while the interviewer is in the home, and self-complete questionnaires are being left behind for both (where applicable) resident parents to fill in. Two 24-hour time use diaries about how the study child spends their day are also being left behind. If the child has a parent living elsewhere and the resident parent agrees to provide contact details for the other parent, then the other parent is being invited to take part in the study by completing a short questionnaire.
As in Wave 1, interviewers undertake some direct assessments of the older cohort of children, who are now aged 6-7 years, and for the first time children themselves are being interviewed about how they find school and their feelings more generally. Children in both cohorts are weighed and height and girth measurements are being taken. Questionnaires are also being sent to teachers (for the 6-7 year old children) and child carers (for the 2-3 year old children).
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is conducting the fieldwork for Wave 2 and ABS interviewers are already telling us how much they are enjoying meeting all the families and participating in the study.
Between waves contact
The 'between Waves 1 and 2' mail-out is now complete. In total, over 70 per cent of families returned the questionnaire, with about 10 per cent of these choosing to do so online. A special effort was made to improve the response rate by contacting a number of families by telephone. This not only helped boost the initial response rate, but also helped with updating the contact details for families prior to the Wave 2 round of visits. A report on this mail-out is currently being prepared and more information on this phase of the study will be available next year.
In addition to other information, parents of the infant cohort provided information on their working arrangements and leave before and after the birth of their child. This information is being used by Dr Gillian Whitehouse and her colleagues at the University of Queensland and University of Sydney to map the use of parental leave and family friendly work policies in Australia. Data obtained from these mail-back questionnaires will be available in August 2006 to researchers approved by FaCS.
We are also keeping in touch with the study children and their families with a December mail-out of a 2006 calendar, especially designed for Growing Up in Australia featuring children's drawings of their family, and a Newsletter (PDF 422K) that updates families on the progress with the study.
Wave 1 data
A confidentialised unit record file is now available to researchers approved by FaCS. A number of people are already making use of the data. User support services are provided to those who receive the data. Datasets supplied to users are accompanied by a User Guide (PDF 4.3MB) that includes a description of how the study was conducted, information on Wave 1 content, the data file structure, variable naming conventions, and important issues for data analysis. Data users will also be provided with information about the Outcome Index, a composite measure of children's development.
For additional information about the data please see our Data Access page. Application forms for access to the data are also available on this page.
On November 25, Carol Soloff, Growing Up in Australia's Project Manager, gave a presentation on the study to the NSW Early Childhood Intervention Coordination Program Statewide Committee meeting in Sydney. Carol gave an overview of the range of information collected in Growing Up in Australia and presented some initial findings from Wave 1 that related to children with developmental delay.
A seminar on Growing Up in Australia was held at the Australian Institute of Family Studies on 18 August. This seminar, which was part of the Institute's Seminar Series, was presented by Carol Soloff and Sebastian Misson. Carol outlined the key features of the study and presented some of the initial findings from Wave 1, while Sebastian described the features and potential uses of the Outcome Index.
The next edition of Family Matters, the Institute's peer reviewed journal, will be largely dedicated to Growing Up in Australia. This issue will contain articles based on analysis of Wave 1 data conducted by Institute researchers. Topics will include the relationship between childhood injuries and family type, neighbourhood influences on children's wellbeing, work-family balance, child care, the role of grandparents in children's lives, and children's temperament and adjustment.
The Department of Family and Community Services (FaCS) is commissioning three thematic papers on LSAC. These are:
- Parenting and families in Australia
- Mothers, fathers, children and work
- How well are Australian infants and 4 to 5 year old children doing?
In addition, over 60 government and other researchers have been granted access to the data set to investigate issues such as:
- Parenting practices and styles in Australian families
- Work and family balance
- Effect of child care experiences on children's development, and
- Relationship between activity patterns, asthma, obesity and quality of life.
Now that data collection is complete, the Wave 1 questionnaires are available on our website as are the Wave 1.5 questionnaires. 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.