Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

First Footprints in Landmark Study of Indigenous Children

A landmark study, starting next week, will track the long-term development of 2,200 Indigenous children from communities across Australia.

Australia’s Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children, Footprints in Time, will give researchers the capacity to look in depth at the early childhood experiences of Indigenous children and how these experiences influence their future.

The study will provide policy makers with an unprecedented evidence base to improve the design and delivery of program and policy interventions for Indigenous children in the early years.

Collecting data from 2,200 children, starting with two age groups, (6-18 months and 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 years) the study will trace how their circumstances change over at least four years.

The study will include children from diverse locations, including: Darwin, Tiwi Islands, Galawinku, Katherine, Alice Springs, Derby, Fitzroy Crossing, Greater Shepparton, the NSW South Coast, Greater Western Sydney, Dubbo, Mt Isa, Mornington Island, Doomadgee, Ipswich, Logan, Inala, Torres Strait Islands and Northern Peninsula area and Adelaide.

The first wave of data collection is planned from 16 April to 30 September 2008 and will include surveying the structure of households in the context of a range of factors including who lives there, child health, nutrition, major life events, how family members interact with children and the social conditions in which they live.

The study is a key part of the Australian Government’s Indigenous Early Childhood package to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. It’s been designed in consultation with Indigenous stakeholders including individuals and communities, academics, health professionals and community service providers.

The study’s Steering Committee is led by Professor Mick Dodson and a project team of 28 staff. Over time, it is expected that locally engaged Research Administration Officers working on the study will also regularly provide insight into key issues emerging in their research to their local Indigenous Coordination Centres, strengthening local policy initiatives ‘from the ground up’.