Growing Up in Australia and Footprints in Time
LSAC and LSIC Research Conference 2013

Keynote speakers

Captain Steven Hirschfeld MD, Director, The National Children's Study (USA)

Visit The National Children's Study website


Read Captain Steven Hirschfeld's Biography


The National Children's Study (NCS) is a congressionally mandated longitudinal birth cohort study intended to examine the effects of environmental exposures on the growth, development, and well-being of children.

The NCS was mandated by the Children's Health Act of 2000 (Public Law 106-310) and consists of several components, including: a pilot or Vanguard Study, a Main Study focused on exposure-response relationships, substudies embedded in the Vanguard Study or the Main Study, and formative research projects.

Data collection for the Vanguard Study began in January 2009. By July 2009, the observed data differed from the expected data to such a degree that pilot Study design and implementation were re-evaluated and a new approach was developed. The design was changed from using a door-to-door household recruitment model to include an Alternate Recruitment Study (ARS), in 2010.

The ARS tested three different recruitment strategies that differed as to initial point of contact with potential participants- direct outreach, household-based through an NCS contractor, and provider-based through a licensed health care practitioner. Following approximately one year of data acquisition and testing in the field, the recruitment approach using health care providers as the point of entry proved the most resource efficient.

Currently, the Study is testing a further refinement of the provider- based recruitment strategy in three NCS locations, using hospitals and birthing centers in addition to clinics and offices, in a sample frame adjusted from the initial sampling frame to simplify geographic eligibility. This effort is referred to as the Provider-Based Sampling (PBS) Feasibility Study and will bring Vanguard Study enrollment to about 5000 children. The PBS is a bridge to a proposed Main Study design to have about 100, 000 children enrolled based on a hybrid of a national probability sample and a supplemental sample for special populations.

The Main Study design is currently under review by the National Academies of Science with an expected launch date in 2015.

Associate Professor Susan Morton, Director, Growing Up in New Zealand

Introducing the new generation of "kiwi-kids" – evidence from Growing Up in New Zealand

Visit the Growing Up in New Zealand website


Dr Morton is a Public Health Physician specialising in life course epidemiology with a focus on translational research. Her research interests include intergenerational and early life influences on growth and development, elucidating pathways to socio-economic and ethnic inequities in health and exploring novel statistical methodologies relevant to life course and longitudinal data.

She is currently the Director and Principal Investigator for the contemporary longitudinal study - Growing Up in New Zealand, a role she has held since its development phase began in 2005. She leads a diverse, multi-disciplinary research and operations team to undertake this contemporary study which has involved the recruitment of nearly 7000 families in pregnancy and the subsequent collection of information from children and their families on four occasions over the last four years.

Dr Morton is Director of the University of Auckland's cross-faculty Centre for Longitudinal Research which was established in 2010. This Centre provides an academic home for longitudinal, population and translational research, including the Growing Up in New Zealand study. She leads the Translational theme for Gravida, the New Zealand Centre for Research Excellence (National Research Centre for Growth and Development) which utilises several international longitudinal datasets to develop econometric models of the life course costs of a less than healthy early start to life.


Growing Up in New Zealand is a longitudinal study that provides an up-to-date, population-relevant picture of what it is like to be a child growing up in New Zealand in the 21st century. It recruited and collected information from both mothers and their partners from before their children were born, and it has undertaken two further data collection waves during the children's first two years of life. It is unique in terms of its capacity to provide a comprehensive picture of contemporary child development across multiple domains of influence for children born in New Zealand, and for including significant numbers of Māori, Pacific and Asian children as well as New Zealand European and other New Zealanders.

Growing Up in New Zealand is multidisciplinary and includes a translational dimension, with an explicit intent to both relate to the current policy context and inform future policy development. At each contact with families information is sought across six inter-connected domains: health and wellbeing, psychological and cognitive development, education, family and whānau (extended family), neighbourhood and societal context, and culture and identity. This presentation will provide an introduction to the new generation of New Zealanders and the diversity of families and environments shaping their development in their first year of life.

Dr Maggie Walter, Associate Professor School of Social Sciences, University of Tasmania

Telling the Stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Families

Visit the Footprints in Time: Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children (LSIC) website


Maggie Walter (PhD), a descendant of the trawlwoolway people from North Eastern Tasmania, teaches and researches in the School of Social Sciences at the University of Tasmania. Her research and publications range across the fields of Critical Race Studies, Research Methods and Methodologies and Indigenous social policy.

She has been a member of the Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children (LSIC) steering committee since 2004. Currently she is also: the Deputy Director of the Australian Research Council supported National Indigenous Researcher and Knowledges Network (NIRAKN); the Public Policy and Law member of the Research Advisory Committee at AIATSIS; and is a member of the Editorial Board of Native American and Indigenous Studies, the journal of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association.

Her recent publications include: Walter, M. & Andersen, C. (2013) Indigenous Statistics: A Quantitative Research Methodology Left Coast Press: Walnut Creek, California and Walter, M. (2013) (ed) Social Research Methods 3rd edition Oxford University Press: Melbourne.


In this presentation, Dr Walter will tell two interlinked stories of the Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children (LSIC). Each story is framed within the other. The first is the narrative of what our combined data are telling us about the lived experience of Indigenous children. The release in February of Wave 4 data represents a major achievement for the funding and implementing department FaHCSIA, the Footprints in Time Team and, most crucially, our LSIC families. These cumulative data waves have followed our groups of LSIC babies and kids from infants to pre-schoolers and from pre-schoolers to middle schoolers respectively.

What is emerging, as I will show, is a vibrant, coherent, sometimes distressing, but also joyful, policy relevant portrait of how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 'be' family and 'do' raising children in contemporary Australia.

The second is that of the LSIC project and how LSIC does Indigenous research. From being mooted in 2003 to its current reality, it's a tale of groundbreaking aims, of events that shaped the projects' development, and of processes that underpin the strengths, as well as some of the weaknesses, of the LSIC data. At its heart is LSIC's purposive, but uniquely, ambitiously, collaboratively and incrementally built Indigenous methodological framework. This methodology permeates through LSIC research questions, design, data collection and analysis practices and is central to the essential trust of our families that LSIC is research manifestly in the interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Additionally, the program will feature some of Australia's leading researchers in areas relating to child development and family wellbeing.