Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) is a long-term research project following a large group of children and their families over the years as they grow and learn.
The Australian Institute of Family Studies hosts the 'Growing Up in Australia' website for the study.
Management of the study
The Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) funds and manages the study on behalf of the Australian Government.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics collects and processes the data.
The Australian Institute of Family Studies is responsible for the design and content of the study, and the preparation of research and statistical reports.
A consortium of leading researchers from a diverse range of disciplines including early childhood, education, psychology, economics and paediatrics provides ongoing advice and technical expertise.
The Data Expert Advisory Group provides technical advice to the study. It consists of statistical experts external to the study as well as representatives from the three lead agencies.
The Longitudinal Study Advisory Group provides strategic and policy advice for LSAC, LSIC and the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey, including direction on the content, research questions and research priorities of LSAC.
About the study
The aim of the research is to provide a comprehensive national picture of the current generation of Australian children as they grow up.
Around 10,000 children and their families were recruited for the study. There are currently two cohorts of children. When the study began in 2004, they were 3-19 months and 4-5 years old.
Because it is a long-term research study, looking at the same children in their family, school and other environments, the study is especially useful in enabling researchers to identify key factors influencing children's physical and mental health, social adjustment, cognitive development and school achievement. Only longitudinal studies can inform us about what leads to different development trajectories.
Data is collected by interviewers during visits to the families, who have all agreed to take part. The children's parents, parents living elsewhere and child-care providers or teachers fill out questionnaires. As the children are growing older, they are gradually telling us more about their lives and eventually will be the main respondent.
When the data is collected, it is called a wave. Waves are every two years. There were also between waves questionnaires sent at Wave 1.5, 2.5 and 3.5. Between Wave 4 and 5 a letter was sent to families inviting them to update their contact details online and inform us about the value of the newsletters and updates they received from the study.
The study will help government to develop effective policies, based on evidence, on early childhood issues such as:
- family relationships,
- child care,
- family support, and
- separated families.
At each main wave, a wide range of age appropriate developmental outcomes is measured – children’s health, physical development, emotional wellbeing and intellectual and social development. In addition, data is collected on the context in which development is occurring – family and community characteristics, child care and learning environments and work and social environments.
The participants are the study child, and his/her parents, child care providers and teachers.
Details about the various waves of the study are available on the Growing Up in Australia: LSAC website.
The unit record LSAC data is available to FaHCSIA staff and others for research purposes. There are two versions of the data – the General Release data and the In-Confidence data. The In-Confidence data set contains more detailed information regarding children and their families such as specific geographic information. Only those with a demonstrated need will be given access to the In-Confidence data. As the files are large, the data needs to be analysed with a statistical package such as Stata, SAS or SPSS.
Users can apply for more than one dataset using the same application form. Users of the unconfidentialised datasets will automatically be given access to the same general release. All datasets contain the latest wave of data as well as all previous waves. Users will be given access to the latest available release of data.
Obtaining access to datasets for FaHCSIA staff
To access the LSAC (Longitudinal Study of Australian Children), HILDA (Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia) and/or LSIC (Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children) datasets, you must complete an Application for FaHCSIA Longitudinal Surveys [PDF 118.85kB]. The form includes a deed of confidentiality. Users of the datasets must abide by the terms and conditions stated in the deed of confidentiality.
The Manual for Access and Use of FaHCSIA Longitudinal Survey Datasets [PDF 260kB] provides information about FaHCSIA’s licensing arrangements for the LSAC HILDA and LSIC datasets and details about your roles and responsibilities under those arrangements.
If you have any questions about applying for the LSAC HILDA and LSIC datasets, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Obtaining access to datasets for Non-FaHCSIA staff
Applying for an Organisational Deed of Licence
Users affiliated with an organisation which has signed an Organisational Deed of Licence, will need to contact their Data Manager and sign a Deed of Confidentiality. Refer to the list of organisations with an Organisational Deed of Licence.
Before applying organisations should refer to the Manual for Access and Use of FaHCSIA Longitudinal Survey Datasets [PDF 260kB] it contains a full explanation of organisational licensing arrangements and the responsibilities of Data Managers and users of FaHCSIA datasets.
A brief summary of organisational licensing arrangements:
- A delegate from the organisation signs a Deed of Licence [PDF 242kB] on behalf of the organisation. Researchers from an approved organisation who require access to the data will complete a Deed of Confidentiality.
- The delegate must nominate a data manager who will be responsible for managing access to the dataset by users in the organisation and liaising with FaHCSIA, the Melbourne Institute (HILDA) and the Australian Institute of Family Studies (LSAC).
- A payment of $330.00 is charged for each release of data. This fee is charged when the first application for each release from each survey from the organisation is approved by FaHCSIA.
- Once the fee is paid to the relevant survey manager, any number of users from the organisation who complete a Deed of Confidentiality and have been authorised by FaHCSIA can access that release without charge.
- A release includes all previous waves of the data.
- All data users are obliged to meet security requirements. These are outlined in the Manual for Access and Use of FaHCSIA Longitudinal Survey Datasets [PDF 260kB]
- Organisations are not permitted to use the data for commercial purposes
Applying for an Individual Licence for Australian Academic and Government Users
Non-FaHCSIA individual users will need to sign an Individual Deed of Licence for Australian Academic and Government Users - PDF [128 KB]
- Honours students will only be granted access under an Organisational Licence.
- Students will only be granted access if their supervisor has access.
- Research assistants may only be granted access if a senior research officer from the same project has access.
Applying for an Individual Licence for Overseas Users
If you are:
- An overseas academic at a university
- An overseas PhD Student at a university. Please note that access will only be granted in exceptional circumstances and both the student and the supervisor must apply for and pay for access to the same dataset independently. The student and their supervisor must be located at the same university
- An overseas researcher who works at private institutions whose primary business is research and the data is used for research purposes (applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis)
You will need to complete the Individual Deed of Licence - Overseas Researchers [PDF 251 KB]
Further questions regarding the data access can be directed to email@example.com.
LSAC research reports
The Department has also commissioned and published a number of research reports for its Social Policy Research Paper series based on data from the study.
- Parent and child wellbeing and the influence of work and family arrangements: a three cohort study
- Child care and early education in Australia
- How well are Australian infants and children aged 4 to 5 years doing?
- Parenting and families in Australia
- Mothers and fathers with young children: paid employment, caring and wellbeing
ABC Life @ series
The ABC's LIFE series, inspired by the study, follows 11 children and their families over time.
Information is provided by the children's families and child development experts, with reference to findings from the study. The series explores the different developmental pathways of the 11 children and asks what it takes to give a child the best start in life.
Life at 1 was the first instalment in the series and looked at the children when they were about 12 months of age. It was first screened on the ABC in 2006, and explored stress and personality.
Life at 3 screened in 2008 and looked at the children at around three years of age, focussing on the issues of behaviour and childhood obesity.
Life at 5 screened in 2011 and looked at how children develop reliance, and the skills they need to cope with starting school.
Life at 7 screened in 2012 and it tracked the development of 10 of the children’s temperament and their emerging relationships with their peers. The series also explored the children’s first steps towards independence and self-identity. In this series, the children explained in their own words how they see their lives in their ever-expanding world.
The ABC's LIFE series website has more information, and videos of the programs.
Growing Up In Australia: the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children 2010–11 Annual Report provides an overview of Wave 4 data and preliminary findings from the older cohort of study children aged ten to eleven years old. Topics covered include children’s health, schooling, sleep, worries and concerns, parental monitoring and neighbourhoods. Data from Wave 4 of the study was released in August 2011.
Growing Up In Australia: the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children 2009–10 Annual Report provides an overview of the Wave 3.5 data collection and findings from when the study children were aged 5-6 and 9-10 years old. The report includes information about the children's schooling, health and media/technology use.
Growing Up in Australia: the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children 2008-09 Annual Report presents an overview of the Wave 3 data collection and preliminary findings when the study children were aged 4–5 and 8–9 years old. The report also includes articles about breastfeeding and infants' time use, child and infant outcomes, and stress and psychological distress in mothers of infants.
Further information can be obtained from the FaHCSIA LSAC project team firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone on (02) 6146 2306.
The main website for the study is the Growing Up in Australia website at the Australian Institute of Family Studies. It contains a wealth of detail including a data users information page and many publications which give a picture of what the research has told us so far.
You can also access FaHCSIA's Longitudinal Surveys Electronic (FLoSse) Research archive to browse or search for bibliographic details of research material using data from LSAC and FaHCSIA's other longitudinal surveys.
- Footprints in Time - The Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children
- Growing Up in Australia and Footprints in Time LSAC and LSIC Research Conference 2013
Dates: 13 and 14 November 2013
Venue: Rydges Melbourne, 186 Exhibition Street, Melbourne