The Australian Temperament Project

The first 30 years
ATP Report – May 2013

About the authors

Dr Ben Edwards (BA, BA(Hons), PhD) is Executive Manager (Longitudinal Studies) at the Australian Institute of Family Studies. He manages Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) and, since 2010, has been involved in the Australian Temperament Project (ATP). Ben has undertaken evaluations of large-scale government programs focused on child wellbeing, as well as research on child and adolescent development, families caring for a person with a disability, and the effects of drought on families. He has also undertaken consultancies for a range of government and non-government agencies. Ben has used ATP data to examine the long-term effects of adolescent bullying, and in an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) project on the influence of temperament on social progress in adulthood.

Dr Mary Hawkins (BA(Hons), PhD) is a Research Fellow working for Deakin University, specialising in the measurement and analysis of positive outcomes. Mary has an interest in wellbeing over the lifespan and worked as part of the ATP team on positive development from 2007 to 2012, covering the period from late adolescence to adulthood. She also co-authored papers on school bonding and alcohol-related harms and worked as Project Manager for the ATP during 2012.

Dr Primrose Letcher (BA(Hons), MPsych(Clin), PhD) is a clinical psychologist with a long history of project management and research with the ATP. Her PhD examined precursors of anxiety in adolescence, using the ATP dataset. Her main research interests include individual, family and social processes in child and adolescent development, developmental psychopathology of emotional problems and positive development across the lifespan. Primrose is currently Project Manager for the ATP Generation 3 Study, which is following the health and development of children born to ATP study members. With two young children of her own, she is keen to contribute to our understanding about intergenerational pathways and processes.

Keriann Little (BA(Hons)/BSc) has been a research assistant on the ATP since 2007 and is currently undertaking a Masters in Psychology (Clinical Child)/PhD. Her work on the ATP has included making telephone contact with many ATP study members, and undertaking research on the causes and consequences of alcohol consumption in adolescence and early adulthood. Her other areas of interest centre around the contributions of genetics and environmental factors to adolescent mental health.

Jacqui Macdonald (BA(Hons)) is a lecturer in the School of Psychology at Deakin University and a researcher and former Project Manager with the ATP Generation 3 Study. Her research focuses on the emotions and behaviours associated with caregiving. Using ATP data from three generations, she is exploring the factors in a person’s life history that might predict the way in which they relate to their children. Specifically, she is examining the quality of the relationships that ATP study members have had with family and friends, from childhood through to early adulthood, and how that might affect the relationships study members develop with their own children.

Professor Frank Oberklaid (AOM, MD, FRACP, DCH) is the Foundation Director of the Centre for Community Child Health, Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne, and a Professor within the University of Melbourne Department of Pædiatrics. Frank is a pædiatrician who maintains an active clinical practice in developmental/behavioural pædiatrics, in addition to his interests in research, training and advocacy for children. He has authored two books, numerous book chapters and over 150 scientific papers on various aspects of pædiatrics. Frank was one of the instigators of the ATP and was a chief investigator on the project in its early years.

Dr Meredith O’Connor (BA(Hons), DEdPsych, MAPS) is an educational and developmental psychologist specialising in the interface between education and healthy development over the life course, with an emphasis on practice- and policy-relevant research. Her doctoral research used ATP data to explore pathways to positive development and the relationship between healthy functioning and mental health problems during the transition to adulthood. She was part of the ATP team from 2008 to 2012, and continues to work with the team in research on healthy development. She is currently the Positive Education Research Fellow at Geelong Grammar School and a Senior Research Officer at Murdoch Childrens Research Institute.

Associate Professor Craig Olsson (PhD) is a developmental psychologist based at the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne, with joint appointments at the Deakin Centre for Mental Health and Wellbeing Research, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, and the Department of Pædiatrics at the University of Melbourne. He has worked on the ATP since 2009 and now leads the ATP Generation 3 Study. His work addresses the many factors, both within and across generations, that affect development from childhood to adulthood. He is the National Convenor of the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY) Longitudinal Studies Network, which brings together over 20 longitudinal studies of child health and development. In 2013, he was awarded an Australian Research Council Discovery Outstanding Researcher Award (DORA) for his contribution to life course research.

Professor Margot Prior (AO, FASSA, FAPS) is Professor of Psychology at the University of Melbourne. She has been a lecturer, clinician and researcher in the field of family and child development for more than 35 years, at several universities. Her special research focus has been on autism spectrum disorders, and children with learning and behavioural difficulties. Between 1994 and 2002, she was Professor/Director of Psychology at the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne. She was one of the original leaders of the ATP and has published many papers and given many talks on this research. She is currently involved in a longitudinal study of language and literacy development in Victorian children across the age span of 8 months to 13 years.

Professor Ann Sanson (BA, PhD, FAPS) is a developmental psychologist and Honorary Professorial Fellow in the Department of Pædiatrics at the University of Melbourne. Her research expertise is in longitudinal studies of child and adolescent development and wellbeing. She has been involved in the ATP since the start, and is the Principal Scientific Advisor to Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children. Ann also advises national longitudinal studies in Norway, New Zealand and Ireland, and is on the Steering Committee for the Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children. She has also worked with the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth.

Diana Smart (BA(HHons), MA, DipEd) is a psychologist with extensive experience in research on child and youth development and is currently a Senior Research Fellow at the Australian Institute of Family Studies. She has a longstanding interest in the development of positive attributes, and strengths such as social competence, social responsibility and civic engagement. She has led influential research on developmental pathways to adolescent problem behaviours, the identification of sensitive transition points, and risk and protective factors. She has been involved in the ATP since 1988 and sees this as the highlight of her career.

Professor John W. Toumbourou (BA(Hons), MA, PhD, MAPS) is the Chair in Health Psychology within the School of Psychology at Deakin University, and an Associate Director of the university’s Strategic Centre for Mental Health and Wellbeing Research. John has been Principal Investigator on the ATP since 1996, when the study members reached adolescence. John has been influential internationally and nationally in the fields of prevention science and health psychology, where he has received international awards for his contributions, and has helped reshape Australian health policies to more effectively address adolescent alcohol misuse and related problems.

Suzanne Vassallo (BAppSci, GradDipPsych, MClinPsych) is a Research Fellow at the Australian Institute of Family Studies. She has worked on the ATP since 2001, including four years as Project Manager (from 2008 to 2012). Over her career, Suzanne has been involved in the development and implementation of a number of large-scale cross-sectional and longitudinal studies, including the ATP and the Longitudinal Study of Separated Families. Besides longitudinal studies, her research interests include the development of risk-taking behaviour in adolescents and young adults, and relationships between young people and their parents.