Growing Up in Australia
Newsletter No. 7, September 2004

Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, ISSN 1448-9147 (Online)

Stop Press: Almost 10,000 families recruited!

Main Data Collection

We are now nearing the end of the data collection period, with about 9,800 interviews completed and a further 100 or so appointments made. Already our target of 5,000 families with infants has been achieved. We are therefore well on the way to recruiting the 10,000 families, expected by the end of September.

This result has been achieved through the hard work of about 150 interviewers around the country, which we know they have found both a challenge and very enjoyable. Feedback from our data collection agency, I-view, is that the vast majority of the interviewers are keen to work on the study next time.

Remote Areas

Although the difficulties of including remote areas were acknowledged, about 60% of children in remote Australia (as classified by the Remoteness Area from the Australian Bureau of Statistics) were given a chance of selection, and a number of postcodes from these areas were selected. Where possible, interviewers were recruited in these areas, or else sent on a number of visits to the area.

About 5.3 per cent of our target population lives in remote areas (based on HIC data). Over 420 interviews have been obtained from remote areas, representing 4.2 per cent of the total sample - quite a good result, given the difficulties of obtaining interviews in these areas.

The greatest difficulties were when individual families were many kilometres away from a central town. In these cases, where contact could be made with the family in advance (many of these families got in touch with the 1800 numbers to indicate their willingness to take part), then arrangements were made for an interview, either by visit or by phone, if the travel situations was particularly difficult (eg 500kms on a 4WD track!). We managed to include about 24 families in these situations.

Some interviewers travelled many miles and tried in many ways to secure an interview. Interviews were done in the back seats of the 4WD or with paperwork balanced on knees and with a child on the other!

Indigenous Response Rates

In the first 2 phases of fieldwork, interviews were obtained with about 150 Indigenous families. This represents about 3 per cent of the sample.

Attempts were made to contact 40 Indigenous families in remote areas, resulting in 5 interviews. A decision was made to only visit a remote community if it could be done at relatively low cost or if there was contact with the family in advance of an interviewer's visit. This was based on the experience from the preliminary sample which showed that visiting without an appointment was not likely to result in an interview.

Response Rates

It looks like the final response rate will be around 54-55% of families sent a letter of invitation by HIC. Note that a substantial proportion of non-response is due to out-of-date addresses (about 15%) with the remaining 30% due to refusals, including a small proportion of 'no interview' for other reasons. Almost two-thirds of the refusals occurred at the HIC opt-out stage.

Other Survey Material

We are receiving good response to the other survey materials that form part of this study. About 80-85% of the parents in the study are returning their self-complete questionnaires, and a similar number are completing the Time Use Diaries. In general, respondents have been very accepting of the diaries, as these give them the opportunity to tell us about what their child does each day. These diaries alone will provide a wealth of information from the study.

Overall, there has been a high level of agreement from parents for us to contact the child's carer or teacher. Almost all parents of children at school or pre-school agreed to the teacher being sent a questionnaire, and 85% of parents with an infant in 8 or more hours of child care agreed to the carer being contacted. So far the response from teachers and carers is about 75-80%.

Data Access - a Reminder

Data from the main study are due to be released to researchers and policy makers in April 2005.

A discussion paper (no.3) on data management is available on the website. This report outlines data management issues, including recommendations on file structure, data security, data access and data release, and confidentialising of data. Comments on this report are welcome. Please contact us with any feedback.

Long Term Research Program

In mid October, the Department of Family and Community Services (FaCS) are hosting a 2 day workshop which aims to develop a long-term research program that identifies potential data analysis projects using data from Growing Up in Australia. The program will be based on the Australian Government's requirements for policy related analysis and on the Key Research Questions that were posed for this study in its formative stages. Many government and other agencies have been invited to send participants to this workshop, and the program produced from the workshop (available by mid November) will be used by FaCS, other Government agencies and LSAC consortium members to prioritise research projects and to apply for funding.

For further information, contact Jane Dickenson or phone (02) 6244 8568.

Between Waves Contact

Earlier this month we sent a short questionnaire to the families who were part of the preliminary study in 2003. In this we asked for a few updates on the study child's progress and changes to their family and child care/schooling arrangements. Included with the mail-out was a colourful newsletter updating families on the study (also available on our website). The main purpose of this contact is as a sample maintenance tool, but the data that will be collected for the main study participants will be made available.

As part of this mail-out, questions on parental leave and working conditions, pre- and post the birth of the study child, were included with the Infant cohort questionnaire, as part of a study being conducted by Dr Gillian Whitehouse of the University of Queensland.

Wave 2 Development

Wave 2 development is underway! The Design Teams have been reformed into 6 domains and membership has been expanded to include representatives from interested Commonwealth and State/Territory Government departments, such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and the Department of Education, Science and Training. The Design Teams are: Health, Child Care, Education, Family Functioning, Child Functioning and Socio-demographics. These teams have been meeting via teleconference during September, in order to identify new or substantially revised measures for Wave 2 that will be pre-tested in October and November.

The tender process for a data collection agency for waves 2-4 has been nearly completed.


As you are no doubt aware, AIFS has a new Director, Alan Hayes, and a new Deputy Director (Research), Alison Morehead. Alison now has responsibility for the management of Growing Up in Australia at AIFS, as its Executive Project Manager. Associate Professor Ann Sanson continues as Project Director, and has responsibility for technical leadership and content.

A small AIFS design team has been established to manage Wave 2 development. Christine Millward has returned to the project for 2 months to assist with this process, and we have recruited Linda Bencic as Design Manager along with Cid Mateo, outposted from FaCS, to work with the design teams.

Contact Us

If you want further information on the Growing Up in Australia study, please visit our website at or contact us.