Growing Up in Australia and Footprints in Time: The LSAC and LSIC Research Conference
Findings from The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) and The Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children (LSIC)

15-16 November 2011, Melbourne

Keynote speakers

Stephen R Zubrick

University of Western Australia and Telethon Institute for Child Health Research

Language development and change: Growth, patterns, and processes in the Australian Longitudinal Studies

Few achievements are more startling than the emergence of language in young children. Commencing early and relentlessly in search of the adult model of language as its end-point, once developed, the language system is used and extended for the rest of life. It's neurobiological, cognitive and social underpinnings produce, for most children, a developmental capacity that allows the achievement of onward self-productivity and dynamic complementarity. To focus on language development is to study one of the major pathways that supports the expansion of human capital and, most importantly, enables human capability. What characterises the patterns of growth and change in the language development of children in the Australian Longitudinal Studies? How much of this can actually be studied with the available measures and design? What are the typical and atypical patterns of change and what of the child's wider developmental ecology predicts this? This presentation will use information from the Australian Longitudinal Studies to illustrate opportunities and challenges in conceptualising language growth and development and relating this to outcomes over time.

Melissa Wake

Director of Research at the Centre for Community Child Health at the Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne

The Health of Australia's Children

The right of every child to enjoy the highest attainable standards of health is enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Despite the remarkable gains of the last century, children's physical health still presents many challenges. More children are living with chronic conditions. Social disparities in health are widening. Links between physical and psychological wellbeing are becoming more evident, and their biologic bases more clearly delineated. The costs of early health stem not only from special health care needs during childhood but from the adult diseases inherent in already-measurable, but asymptomatic, childhood precursors. Thus, important challenges for health care systems are to understand the overall impact of health conditions on children's life experiences, and to improve outcomes through prevention and appropriate, effective intervention at the earliest possible stage.

This presentation will explore how the 10,000-strong Longitudinal Study of Australian Children is already contributing to all these areas, and its growing power as these children become adolescents and – ultimately – sick or healthy adults.

The Research Conference program.