Growing Up in Australia
Newsletter No. 21, September 2008

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

Wave 3 data collection

We are nearing the completion of the third wave of data collection. Over 8,000 interviews have been conducted and several hundred more are expected to be completed by end November. Informal feedback from interviewers is that the study is continuing to be well received by families. Formal debriefing with interviewers is occurring in mid October, where we expect to receive a lot of useful feedback as we prepare for Wave 4.

Wave 4 development

We are now in the testing phase for Wave 4, which will be conducted in 2009-10, when the study children will be aged 6-7 years and 10-11 years.

The first round of testing involved two groups of children in the older age range who were canvassed about the topics and questions planned for the child interview.  Children were asked about the amount and suitability of questions for children of this age.

The second round of testing involved the different data collection modes being considered for Wave 4. Changes tested include an initial computer assisted telephone interview for the parent before the home visit, and (audio) computer assisted self interviews for parents and children.  Initial feedback is that all these modes are well received by families.

The next round of testing will examine new content proposed for the parents.  We are also investigating the development of a short time use diary for the older children to complete themselves.

Wave 3.5 development

Another “between-waves” mail-out questionnaire will be conducted in 2009.  These mail-outs are important for keeping in touch with study families and also in obtaining updates on the study child (a lot changes in the two years between interviews!).  The questionnaires can also obtain information on important issues that may not be covered fully in the main waves.

We are currently developing possible content ideas.  These include an expansion of the Wave 2.5 questions on children's use of media and technology, details of the type of activities children are doing, information on the transition to school for the younger cohort, how children travel to school, what the children do after school (both cohorts), and some updates on key health measures.

Life at 3

The Growing Up in Australia study is very pleased to be involved with the second series of a documentary produced by Film Australia in conjunction with Heiress Films, which drew on the experience of the study. The Life at series is following 11 children and their families. It observes their ordinary routines and milestones; looking at factors impacting on their lives such as their parents' relationship, finances, work, health and education.

The two initial episodes were rescreened on ABC TV on 23 and 30 September 2008, and two new episodes for Life at 3 on 2 and 9 October 2008.The documentary explores factors that help or hinder children to thrive, with information provided by the children's families and experts, including members of the Growing Up in Australia Consortium Advisory Group, and analysis of data from the Growing Up in Australia study.

Australian Institute of Family Studies' biennial conference

The Institute held its biennial conference on 9-11 July 2008 in Melbourne. Data from Growing Up in Australia featured in 14 presentations, and 2 symposia were held which highlighted data from the study.

Presentations covered a wide range of topics including parental time with children, parenting, fathering, marriage and financial wellbeing, marital breakdown and financial wellbeing, child support, housing costs and child wellbeing, attendance at pre-school education, obesity, health predictors of outcomes and comparisons of child's outcomes over time.

Details of the papers can be found on the Conference Papers and Presentations Section.

Data user workshop

We held another successful data user training course on Tuesday 8 July, the day before the Australian Institute of Family Studies' conference. The focus of the training is to assist users of the data and those considering becoming users to gain confidence in understanding and navigating the datasets. The training covers a range of topics designed to give a comprehensive overview of the study methodology, datasets and supporting documentation. This workshop was the first to include a “data lab” session, which was well received.

If you would like to attend a data user workshop, please contact the LSAC Data Manager.  We are keeping a list of those who are interested and when there is sufficient demand, further data workshops will be held. 

Growing Up in Australia publications

In conjunction with the screening of Life at 3, the Australian Government Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) is releasing a major report based on Wave 1 data entitled How well are Australian infants and children aged 4 to 5 years doing? 

A reminder that the June 2008 release of the Institute's journal, Family Matters, featured a number of articles that focused on the Growing Up in Australia study. 

The Annual Report 2006-2007 for Growing Up in Australia, was released in June. 

If you would like a hardcopy of either of the Institute's publications, please contact us with your postal address information.

Wave 2.5 data release

Another reminder that data from the between-waves mail survey (Wave 2.5) was released at the end of May 2008.  The main themes explored in this survey were children's use of technology and media (e.g., TV, computers, internet, electronic games systems), welfare payments and work and child support arrangements. Childcare and stressful life events were also covered.

Data from Wave 2.5 is available to researchers approved by FaHCSIA. As for all Growing Up in Australia data, approved researchers are required to abide by strict security and confidentiality protocols. Researchers wanting to access the data will need to read and complete a dataset application form and sign a deed of license. These forms are available via the study website. A user manual accompanies the datasets.

The Institute provides further user support services in the form of user training sessions which expand upon the information provided in the user manual.  Additional information on user training can be provided by the Institute upon request.

Data experts group

A Data Experts Group is being established to provide high level technical advice on the treatment of data at critical points of development. The inaugural meeting of the group is scheduled for late November. The group will provide advice on current data management processes undertaken and provide guidance on issues relating to data manipulation and derived variables. In particular, members of this group will participate in the development of the next Discussion Paper on Data Management prepared as part of each data collection wave.

Contact us

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