Growing Up in Australia
Newsletter No. 19, March 2008
Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, ISSN 1448-9147 (Online)
Growing Up in Australia - Conference
The inaugural Growing Up in Australia: Longitudinal Study of Australian Children Research Conference was held on 3-4 December 2007 in Melbourne. The aim of the Conference was to provide a forum for the discussion of research using LSAC data, highlighting and showcasing the study's potential.
Presentations were of high quality and covered a wide range of topics, with keynote speakers Steve Zubrick and Lyndall Strazdins providing a stimulating start to each day. Some of the extensive range of topics covered were:
- Parenting quality and its influence on children's development.
- Progress of Australian children compared to children born 20 years ago.
- How jobs can be really family friendly.
- Finacial wellbeing in Australian families with young children.
- The relationship between child care and children's social-emotional development.
The conference concluded with a panel discussion on priorities and considerations for future waves of LSAC.
Conference presentations are available online in PDF format from the LSAC conference page.
Wave 2 data
The Wave 2 data are now available to approved researchers and policy makers. Application forms for access to the data and user documentation, including data dictionary, user guide, weighting paper and marked up questionnaires are available on the website.
So far 100 data users, excluding those within the Institute and the Department of Family, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs have access to the Wave 2 data set and we expect this number to increase significantly this year.
Between-waves contact - Wave 2.5
During August 2007, Growing Up in Australia contacted study families with a short mail-out questionnaire asking about children's media and technology use, parent return to work options and child support arrangements. About 70 per cent of families returned their completed questionnaire.
The Australian Government Departments of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations and Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs sponsored the between-waves questionnaire. AIFS is pleased the study is being used for its potential to obtain family's input into current government policy questions, and we look forward to working with other government departments in the future.
Data from Wave 2.5 are expected to be available in April 2008.
Data user training
We have now conducted two successful user-training days, one in Melbourne in December 2007 and one in Canberra in February 2008. Approximately 30 people attended each session.
The focus of the training is to assist users of the data, those considering becoming users and those who are interested in learning more about the data, to gain confidence in understanding and navigating the datasets. The training covers a range of topics designed to give a comprehensive overview of the conduct of the study, its datasets and supporting documentation. The next user training is planned for 8 July, the day before the Australian Institute of Family Studies conference. We will hold training at other times, if there is significant demand. Please contact us to be placed on a ‘waiting' list.
The first stage of Wave 3 data collection for Growing Up in Australia was completed in 2007. Over 400 families were interviewed between August and October 2007. However, most families will be interviewed for the third time during April to October 2008, the main data collection period. Early indications are that we will conduct as many interviews for Wave 3 as for Wave 2.
Once data is available from Wave 3, the cross sequential design of the study will be able to be taken advantage of - the younger cohort are now the same age as the older cohort was in Wave 1 and comparisons between the cohorts will be able to be made.
Wave 3 data collection involves a computer assisted interview with the parent who knows the child best and this parent also fills in a self-complete form while the interviewer is in the home. Two 24-hour time use diaries about how the study child spends their day are left behind, as is a self-complete questionnaire for the other resident parent. If the child has a parent living elsewhere and the resident parent agrees to provide contact details, the non-resident parent is being invited to take part in the study by participating in a telephone interview.
The younger group of children, now aged 4-5 years, will complete the Who Am I? and the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test activities. The older children will again complete the Matrix reasoning and Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test. Children in both cohorts are weighed and height and girth measurements are being taken. Questionnaires are also being sent to teachers.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is conducting the fieldwork for Wave 3 and ABS interviewers are already telling us how much they are enjoying meeting all the families and participating in the study.
Wave 4 and beyond
We have started planning the development of Wave 4 and giving thought to of further waves of the study. Meetings were held with the Consortium Advisory Group in 2007 to discuss initial thoughts, and from March this year Design Teams will begin developing proposals for new and revised content. Investigations may also occur into alternative data collection modes, such as Computer Assisted Self Interview and self-complete forms for the older children.
Keeping in touch with families
In December, Growing Up in Australia families were sent a newsletter that provides an update on the study's progress, and a 2008 calendar featuring wonderful drawings by 8-9 year old study children. Please contact us with requests for hardcopies of these publications.