Growing Up in Australia
Newsletter No. 10, July 2005
Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, ISSN 1448-9147 (Online)
Launch of Wave 1 Data and the first Annual Report
On 16 May 2005 at the Melbourne Museum, Senator the Hon Kay Patterson, Minister for Family and Community Services, launched the first wave of Growing Up in Australia: the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children data and the study's first Annual Report. The Minister's media release titled "Major study supports Government's work first approach" announced the findings from Growing up in Australia as a "landmark in the development of a solid evidence base upon which future children and family policies can be developed".
Wave 1 data
Data from Wave 1 of the main study were also released to researchers and policy makers in May.
Some highlights from the data include:
- The rate of paternal employment is not related to the age of the study child. Ninety two per cent of fathers in the infant cohort were employed as were 93 per cent in the 4-5 year old cohort.
- However, the rate of maternal employment was strongly related to the age of the study child. Thirty-nine per cent of mothers in the infant cohort were employed compared to 54 per cent in the 4-5 year old cohort.
- Nine in ten parents agreed that their neighbourhood was safe and clean and around three-quarters that their neighbourhood had good parks, playgrounds and play spaces.
- Seventy-nine per cent of 4-5 year olds had a body mass index within the normal range, 15 per cent were overweight and 6 per cent obese.
- In the month before the survey, 35 per cent of infants had been looked after by someone other than a parent at regular times during the week.
- Girls in the 4-5 year old cohort showed better outcomes in the learning and social/emotional domains than boys.
- For 4-5 year olds, attendance in care with an education focus (eg. school, preschool, day care with a preschool program) is associated with improved learning scores compared to care settings without an education focus.
- Most parents (73 per cent in infant cohort and 65 per cent in 4-5 year old cohort) consider themselves to be a better than average parent.
- Eighty-nine per cent of 4-5 year old children spent time watching television, a video or a DVD. Of these 89 per cent, the average time spent watching is 2.3 hours per day.
- Sixty-six per cent of the 4-5 year old children spent time walking, running or doing exercise on an average day.
(Data highlights provided by Department of Family and Community Services (FaCS) staff.
Additional highlights (PDF 281 KB) or Word Doc (139 KB) from the Wave 1 data.
Data are warehoused at the Australian Institute of Family Studies and a confidentialised unit record file is now available to researchers approved by FaCS who must abide by strict security and confidentiality protocols.
We will provide user support services to those who receive the data. Datasets supplied to users are accompanied by a User Guide (PDF 4.3 MB) 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. It is likely that user training sessions will be offered by the Institute to expand upon the information provided in the User Guide.
In addition, Technical papers discussing issues related to sample design and weighting will be released progressively, beginning with Technical paper no.1 (PDF 627 KB) on sample design. An online Data Dictionary is also available to assist users of the dataset. 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.
Between Waves Contact
We recently contacted all the families who were interviewed during 2004, sending a newsletter updating them on the study's progress and enclosing a short mail back questionnaire. An online response option is also available for these questionnaires.
The questionnaires ask parents about a number of important aspects of the lives of their child and family in the last year. The questionnaire for the infant cohort also includes questions for a nested study by Dr Gillian Whitehouse from the University of Queensland, on parental leave and working conditions before and after the birth of a child.
The results of these mail back questionnaires will be publicly released in 2006.
Wave 2 Development
A pilot test of all Wave 2 study instruments was conducted in early May. The aim of the pilot test was to obtain a broad indication of interview length and to test new measures.
The findings of this pilot test have been used to refine the instruments for the next phase of data collection that will commence in September. The main wave of data collection will commence in March 2006. The Australian Bureau of Statistics will be conducting the fieldwork for Wave 2.
The Department of Family and Community Services (FaCS) is commissioning three thematic papers on the Growing Up in Australia study. These include:
- How well are Australian infants and 4 to 5 year old children doing?
- Parenting and families in Australia
- Mothers, fathers, children and work
FaCS intends to publish these reports for release early in 2006. The Institute will also be publishing research using the Growing Up in Australia dataset. At this stage, specific publications include the Summer 2005 edition of Family Matters and a Research Report planned for release in 2006.
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.