Media Release by Senator the Hon Amanda Vanstone

Tracking 10,000 Toddlers

Ten thousand toddlers will be tracked over nearly a decade in groundbreaking research on the lives of Australian children.

The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) will collect data over nine years and will be the first ever collection of comprehensive, national longitudinal data done on children in this country.

The Study has been funded under the Howard Government’s $240 million Stronger Families and Communities Strategy. It will officially start next year and will track 5000 infants aged under twelve months and 5000 four-year olds.

Families, teachers and child care workers will be interviewed every two years to see how the children are progressing. We will build a valuable insight into how children develop from a very young age and through their primary school years.

We will learn how different variables in a family, and the services they use, impact on the life of a child. For example, detailed information on the key milestones in children’s lives, such as starting school, will be available to better explain how they cope with such change.

We will have a more complete picture of the things that directly impact on our children’s development, like parenting and family functioning, child care, early education, and health.

The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children will identify further opportunities for governments, families and the community to improve the care we give our children.

Governments around the world, including in the USA, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom have seen the value of this kind of long term data collection on children. Up until now Australia has had a lack of longitudinal information about children. This initiative will fill the gap in our knowledge.

The Australian Institute of Family Studies has been selected to carry out the study. Associate Professor Ann Sanson will lead the group of researchers which includes leaders in the fields of early childhood development, children’s health, including mental health, education, child care and Indigenous children from around Australia.

The Howard Government already has an outstanding record on supporting families through increased payments to families and the expansion of child care.