Issue 95

Family Matters No. 95, 2014

Journal issue feature image

Coming of age: Australia's flagship longitudinal studies

This issue of Family Matters presents a range of articles describing significant longitudinal studies conducted in Australia on families and family wellbeing.

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Executive Editor: Ben Edwards

Editorial panel: Jenny Baxter, Galina Daraganova, John de Maio, Ben Edwards, Alan Hayes, Daryl Higgins, Karena Jessup, Lena Stephens

Editor: Katharine Day

Cover art: The Family Matters No. 95 cover painting is by Dean Bowen, Bird with Stick Insects, 2010, Lithograph 49 × 68 cm, Edition 25. Reproduced courtesy of the artist. 

Publication details

Family Matters No. 95
Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, December 2014, 90 pp.
1030-2646 (print) 1832-8318 (online)

Copyright information


Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children: Entering adolescence and becoming a young adult

Ben Edwards

Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) has now produced five waves of data, capturing information on young children growing up and now entering adolescence. This article explains the design and methodology of the study, and how it has enhanced our capacity to understand the lives of Australian children and their families. Now that the K cohort children are 12-13 years old, they are being asked new questions about this time of transition, such as conflict with authority and antisocial behaviour, after-school time use and supervision, and pocket money, an important aspect in the development of financial literacy.

Introducing Growing Up in Australia's Child Health CheckPoint: A physical and biomarkers module for the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children

Melissa Wake, Susan Clifford, Elissa York, Fiona Mensah, David Burgner and Sarah Davies

Many adult diseases develop from complex health and psychosocial pathways that have their origins in childhood. To help address the gaps in the evidence on the antecedents of adult disease, a comprehensive new physical and biomarkers module - the Child Health CheckPoint - is being added to the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) in 2014-15. Linking LSAC's rich existing early-life data with a suite of state-of-the-art measures not previously feasible in large-scale studies will allow researchers to explore early-life mechanisms underlying health gradients of the children now and the adults they will become. This article outlines Child Health CheckPoint's history and progress to mid-2014, at which time the module is in advanced planning.

Impacts of caring for a child with chronic health problems on parental work status and security: A longitudinal cohort study

Nick Spencer

Current research suggests that caring for a child with chronic health problems has a negative effect on parental work status. This article investigates whether child ill health also has an effect on job tenure and job security - for fathers as well as mothers. Data are taken from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) for couple families with a 6-year-old child with chronic health problems.

Footprints in Time: The Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children: Up and running

Fiona Skelton, Sharon Barnes, Deborah Kikkawa and Maggie Walter

Footprints in Time: The Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children (LSiC) has now produced five waves of data, helping us explore how the early lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children can affect later outcomes. This article provides an overview of the study, including design and data collection methods, sample recruitment and retention, topics and measures, use of the participants' own words, and selected findings. The article also includes sections from Professor Maggie Walter, summarising her keynote speech from the 2013 LSAC/LSIC conference, and Sharon Barnes, who currently manages the interviewers and has been with the study since its inception.

Preschool participation among Indigenous children in Australia

Belinda Hewitt and Maggie Walter

There has been substantial growth in the number of Indigenous children enrolled in preschool - estimated now at 88%, up from around 55% in 2006. However, enrolment increases have not occurred at the same rate across all areas and there is a paucity of research on the factors contributing to Indigenous children's preschool participation. Using data from the Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children (LSIC), this article adds to the research by investigating the child, parent, and household characteristics related to preschool participation and non-participation in urban, rural, and remote areas. These include housing stability and disruption, exposure to learning resources such as books, household income and government benefits, parent concerns over child learning skills, and child health. The implications for policy are also discussed.

Social determinants of sugar-sweetened beverage consumption in the Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children

Katherine Thurber, Nasser Bagheri and Cathy Banwell

The benefit of reducing children's sugar-sweetened beverage consumption is unequivocal, and this is particularly true for Indigenous children in Australia, who consume a higher quantity of sugar-sweetened beverages than non-Indigenous children. However, the development of effective policies and programs requires an understanding of the drivers of this behaviour. This article investigates these drivers, using data from the Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children (LSIC). It examines the association between sugar-sweetened beverage consumption among Indigenous children aged 3-9 years old and an array of household, social, cultural and neighbourhood factors, including housing instability, parental education and employment, local disadvantage, food insecurity, family income and relative area isolation. The findings demonstrate the importance of addressing cross-sectoral issues in order to improve the wellbeing of Indigenous Australians.

Measuring the socio-economic status of women across the life course

Jennifer Baxter and Matthew Taylor

This article highlights findings from the 2014 study Socio-Economic Status of Women Across the Life Course in NSW, which examined the main measurement issues that arise when assessing the socio-economic status of women over the life course and determining the "best" indicators. This article reviews some of the issues and presents selected findings relating to women of low socio-economic status in different life-stage groups. The study was commissioned by Women NSW and conducted by the Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Trends in family transitions, forms and functioning: Essential issues for policy development and legislation

Ruth Weston and Lixia Qu

This article looks at the various ways in which family formation pathways and the characteristics and functioning of families have changed over the decades in Australia. It discusses trends in marriage, divorce and cohabitation, and the resulting rise in new forms of families, such as grandparent-headed families, same-sex-parented families, couples living apart together, and shared care. Though trends in the formation and stability of families have changed in striking ways over past decades, the fundamental things about families do not change. Most importantly, they represent the basic unit of society and the site in which most children are raised. This article was first published in the book Families, Policy and the Law: Selected Essays on Contemporary Issues for Australia, published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies earlier in the year.