Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children. Newsletter No. 42 April 2015.
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AIFS news

Study News

Introducing Growing Up in Australia's Child Health CheckPoint


The Child Health CheckPoint is a one-off physical health assessment for the younger children (the B-cohort), in Growing Up in Australia. These children are now aged 11-12 years old. State-of-the-art health measurements are conducted in a purpose-built 'pop-up' assessment centre that will travel to major Australian cities throughout 2015. The CheckPoint assessment centre opened in Victoria in February 2015 and will soon move to the ACT and NSW, then continue around the country.
 
The Child Health CheckPoint targets multiple Australian health priorities. Child assessments include cardiovascular structure and function, respiratory function, hearing, vision, body composition, fitness, physical activity, time use, dental health, bone and muscle structure, nutrition and health-related quality of life. Biological samples collected include blood, saliva, urine, hair and toenail clippings. A parent of each child is also invited to take part in some aspects, to help us learn about intergenerational health.
 
The CheckPoint dataset will be released in late 2017 to approved LSAC data users and will be linked to the main LSAC dataset. This dataset will be updated as the data becomes available.
 
Enriching LSAC with this detailed health data will assist researchers and policy makers to inform public health policy, and service strategies, to improve the health of Australian children and prevent adult illnesses. The Child Health CheckPoint is run from the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, supervised by senior health researchers from Growing Up in Australia and in collaboration with the Australian Institute of Family Studies and the Department of Social Services.

Wave 6 Home Visits Complete


Wave 6 of LSAC concluded with the last interviews taking place in February 2015. Our interviewers travelled all across Australia catching up with our study families, and helping to document the lives of our study children at 10-11 and 14-15 years of age.  

A big thank you to all of our study families and interviewers for their time and invaluable contribution to the study.

If you are a study participant and have changed your contact details, or changed address, then please let us know by email or phone at:

Email: growingup@updatedetails.growingupinaustralia.gov.au
Phone: 1800 005 508 (free call except from mobile phones)

Wave 7 Design Phase


The design phase for Wave 7 is complete and planning is well underway for Phase 1 of our Wave 7 interviews, which are scheduled to begin in June 2015. In Wave 7 the K cohort children will be aged 16-17 years, and our B cohort children will be aged 12-13 years.
 
Wave 7 will feature new questions on personality, volunteering, injuries and school subjects. An Events History Calendar is also being introduced to the older cohort in Wave 7. The calendar will track the education, employment, and relationship and housing history of participants across the two-year period between interviews.

LSAC Conference


The Growing Up in Australia and Footprints in Time LSAC-LSIC Research Conference, which has previously been held biennually, will not be held in 2015.
 
It is proposed that the conference be merged with the Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey research conference to form a new National Centre for Longitudinal Data Conference, which will take place every second year starting in 2016. We will keep you updated with any further conference news.

In the Media

Research based on LSAC continues to feature in the media. Some of the articles that have appeared recently are:
 
Private schools ‘perform no better’
The Australian (14 April 2015)
This article reports on recent research done by the University of Queensland, Curtin University and the University of Southern Queensland. The authors of the research found that private schools performed the same as, or less favourable to public schools on tests and educations scores when the background of students was factored in.
 
Smoking while pregnant increases risk of daughters developing ovarian and breast cancer
Sydney Morning Herald (5 March 2015)
This article reports on the health effects on the daughters of women who smoke while pregnant. Dr Alison Behie’s research found that the daughters, had an increased risk of ovarian and breast cancer. It was found that they also experienced their first menstruation at an earlier age than their peers.
 
Success at school begins at home
Body And Soul (5 February 2015)
This article reports on research by Dr Susan Walker into the influence parents have on their children’s education. The findings show that the level of parental involvement in a child’s schooling, such as showing an interest in homework and having contact with teachers, has a major impact on learning outcomes. The research also finds that effects of parental involvement on learning outcomes start before children go to school.
 
There are rising levels of stress and self-harm among children
The Australian (13 December 2014)
This article reports on mental health issues among children. The article discusses links between a child’s time use and their behaviour, as reported in a chapter in the LSAC Annual Statistical Report 2013. The chapter is titled ‘Time use and children’s social and emotional wellbeing and temperament” and was written by Killian Mullan of AIFS.
 
School results boosted by improved focus in class
Newsmaker (4 December 2014)
This article reports on research by the University of Adelaide into the links between attentiveness and the ability to regulate emotions and educational outcomes. The research was recently published in the journal Child: Care, Health and Development and is discussed further in the publications section of this newsletter.
 
Links between child care and child behaviour
Adelaide Advertiser (30 October 2014)
This article reports on research into the links between child behaviour and time spent in childcare. The findings show that, there is a small but noticeable increase in externalising problem behaviours, such as hyperactivity and disruptive behaviours for children who spend more time in centre-based childcare. However, the research also finds that this same group is less likely to show internalising problem behaviours, such as anxiety and depression.

Publications

Family Matters 95, Coming of age: Australia’s flagship longitudinal studies


The latest edition of the Family Matters, the Australian Institute of Family Studies’ research journal, focuses on longitudinal studies of families in Australia. This edition features an article detailing the design and methodology of LSAC, and outlines how the study is moving from capturing information on Australian children to capturing information on Australian adolescents.  
 
The journal also includes an introductory article to the Child Health CheckPoint, an addition to the LSAC study that will focus on physical health and biological information. This edition also contains articles on research using LSAC, and articles on other longitudinal studies.

The Time of Their Lives: Collecting time use data from children in the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children. LSAC Technical Paper No. 13


By Corey, J., Gallagher, J., Davis, E., & Marquardt, M.
Australian Bureau of Statistics

This LSAC technical paper focuses on the LSAC time use diaries which gather data on how a child spends their time on a given day or days. The diaries, allow researchers to track the relationship between a child’s time use and their outcomes such as physical health, relationships, and social skills.
 
The paper provides a detailed explanation of the diaries and how they are used by researchers using LSAC data. It also details how the methodology of the diary has changed over the course of LSAC, including the move from being filled in by parents to being filled in by the child.

Attendance in primary school: factors and consequences. DSS Occasional Paper No. 51


By Daraganova, G., Mullan, K., & Edwards, B.
Australian Institute of Family Studies

This paper discusses school attendance in primary school, the factors leading to non-attendance and the related outcomes. It also looks at the differences in attendance rates, at different ages, using data from the first four waves of LSAC. The research finds that at ages 6-7 years, the child and family factors with the strongest associations with non-attendance, were being enrolled in pre-year 1, being bullied by classmates and living in a family with a mother who does not work. The results also show that as children age the number of factors leading to non-attendance is smaller, with a reduction in family and parenting factors and with absenteeism in previous years becoming an increasing factor.
 
The paper finds that broadly, higher levels of non-attendance are associated with lower levels of numeracy, particularly in the early primary school years. However, this is not associated with lower levels of reading skills. The authors then go on to discuss characteristics which can offset the negative effects of non-attendance on school achievement. They conclude by stating the importance of early intervention into non-attendance.

Imputing income in the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children. LSAC Technical Paper No. 14
 

By Mullan, K., Daraganova, G., & Baker, K.
Australian Institute of Family Studies
 
This LSAC Technical Paper discusses how information on income is collected by LSAC, and how LSAC addresses the problem of missing income data. The paper outlines an approach taken from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey on imputing missing income data.

After discussing the methodology behind this approach, the paper details how this has been used in LSAC, and how it is provided in the LSAC data set.
 
Note: The variables described in this technical paper will be available with the release of the Wave 6 LSAC dataset expected in late 2015.

LSAC Annual Statistical Report 2013 Short Articles


Child Family Community Australia (CFCA) recently published three short articles based on chapters from the LSAC Annual Statistical Report 2013. These articles provide a quick and accessible look into the research that has come out of LSAC recently.

Are trajectories of self regulation abilities from ages 2-3 to 6-7 associated with academic achievement in the early school years?


By Sawyer, A. C. P., Chittleborough, C. R., Mittinty, M. N., Miller-Lewis, L. R., Sawyer, M. G., Sullivan, T., & Lynch, J. W.
University of Adelaide, Women’s and Children’s Health Network & University of Bristol
 
This paper seeks to investigate the potential impact of self-regulation abilities on academic achievement during the early school years, using data from the first three waves of LSAC. The study looks at a child’s ability to be persistent and attentive with tasks, and to control and regulate their emotions, at ages 2-3 years and 6-7 years in relation to their academic achievement at age 6-7 years.
 
The results show children whose task attentiveness improves as they grow older, have higher levels of literacy and numeracy achievement at ages 6-7 years. Additionally, children whose emotional regulation improves as they grow have higher levels of literacy achievement, but there is no effect on numeracy achievement. The impact on literacy is less pronounced than the effect caused by an increase in task attentiveness.

Impact of Chronic Illness Timing and Persistence at School Entry on Child and Parent Outcomes: Australian Longitudinal Study


By Quach, J., & Barnett, T.
Murdoch Childrens Research Institute & The University of Melbourne

This paper looks into childhood chronic illnesses in primary school aged children, and the effects this has on a child’s learning and behaviour, as well as, parental mental health and healthcare costs. Using K cohort data from the first four waves, the researchers found that across the school entry period, 24.9% of children have, or have had, a chronic illness, with 6.1% having a persistent condition.
 
The results show that children with a chronic illness during the school entry period have poorer learning and behavioural outcomes. It also results in higher levels of maternal mental distress. The authors report that these effects are greater for those with persistent conditions, with the effects reduced for those with new conditions, and further reduced for those with resolved conditions. The findings also show that there are increased medical costs following the same pattern.

FLoSse Research Database


FLoSse is a research database with bibliographic details of reports and journal articles using research from the five longitudinal surveys funded by the Department of Social Services: LSAC, Footprints in Time: The Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children (LSIC), The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey, Journeys Home: A Longitudinal Study of Factors Affecting Housing Stability and Building a New Life in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Humanitarian Migrants (BLNA).

FLoSse contains information on approximately 1,500 articles and is also a useful tool for research literature reviews. Any queries about research material should be directed to the author(s), as FLoSse contains bibliographic details only. Copyright rules apply and permission to use the research for publication should be sought from the author(s) prior to use.
 
DATA USERS:
 
This is a reminder of your obligation, under your agreement for access to the dataset, to upload the bibliographic details of your published research using the dataset at: http://flosse.dss.gov.au/
 
Please contact DSS at FLoSse@dss.gov.au for queries regarding FLoSse.

Resources for Data Users

LSAC Data User Workshops


The LSAC Data User Workshops are designed to assist users of the data, those considering becoming users, or those who are interested in learning more about LSAC data. The workshop enables attendees to gain confidence in understanding and navigating the dataset.

The most recent data workshop was held on 29 July 2014 and coincided with the Australian Institute of Family Studies Conference 2014.

If you would like to attend a future LSAC data user workshop, please contact the AIFS LSAC team and your name will be placed on a waiting list to be contacted at a later date.

Online Resources


Accessing the data: Wave 5 LSAC data is now available. If you wish to apply for access to the dataset visit the DSS Longitudinal Datasets webpage.
 
To apply to have geospatial datasets linked to the LSAC dataset visit our website for more information.
 
Data User Guide: The Data User Guide is designed as a reference tool for users of the LSAC data set. It aims to cover all the things you need to know to use the data.
 
Rationale documents: The rational documents are available to assist data users with information on the scales and items included in LSAC.
 
Data Dictionary: The Data Dictionary provides data users with information on all of the variables in the LSAC data set.
 
Our website also has technical papers, discussion papers and issues papers which have all been created to assist our data users. You can also find information on methodology and copies of the questionnaires used.
 
If you have any questions about the LSAC data set, please contact us at:
datamanager@aifs.gov.au
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