About the study

Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) is a major study following the development of 10,000 children and families from all parts of Australia. It is conducted in partnership between the Department of Social Services, the Australian Institute of Family Studies and the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The study commenced in 2004 with a representative sample of Australian children in two cohorts: families with 4–5 year old children and families with 0–1 year old children. Data are collected every two years from study informants, including the child (when of an appropriate age), parents, carers and teachers. The seventh round of data collection (wave 7) was completed in early 2017, and wave 8 is now underway.

The study investigates the effect of children's social, economic and cultural environments on their wellbeing over the life course. It has a broad multi-disciplinary base and examines policy-relevant questions about development and wellbeing. The research questions span parenting, family relationships, education, child care and health. By tracking children (who are now adolescents and young adults) over time, the study will help us understand the factors associated with different developmental pathways. A major aim of the project is to identify policy opportunities for improving support for children, young people and their families, and to identify opportunities for early intervention.

More information about the study can be found here:

Professor Lyndall Strazdins talks about Growing Up in Australia

Professor Ann Sanson, Principal Scientific Advisor, talks about the Growing Up in Australia Study.

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Some important discoveries our study participants helped us to make

Study participants helped us to make some important discoveries that will help to shape public policy and improve the lives of all Australian kids. Discoveries include:

  • Children who go to bed before 8:30 pm are likely to be healthier than children who go to bed later. They also have happier mums1
  • If a child likes their primary school they are much more likely to make a successful transition to high school.2
  • Spending more time doing household chores, homework and reading, and less time watching TV or playing video games is associated with fewer behavioural problems in children such as hyperactivity.3
  • One in three Australian children wished they had more quality time with their dad, with many fathers spending more than 44 hours per week at the office4

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Some interesting findings from wave 6

What 14-15 years olds told us about…

…who decides how late they can stay out at night:

  • For 2 in 5 young people, their parents decide how late they can stay out
  • Almost 1 in 4 young people decide together with their parents.

A pie chart showing who decides how late young people can stay out at night

…who decides what they do with their money:

  • Over 2 in 5 young people decide what they do with their money
  • 1 in 3 decide for themselves, but consult their parents.

A graph showing who decides what young people do with their money

…who decides which friends they can spend time with:

  • Almost half of young people decide by themselves which friends they hang out with
  • 1 in 5 decide which friends to spend time with but consult their parents, and another 1 in 5 decide together with their parents.

A pie chart showing who decides which friends young people can spend time with

…who they were attracted to:

  • Most 14–15 year olds identified as being attracted only to the opposite sex.
  • 1% of young people identified as being attracted to members of their own sex and 3% as being attracted to both males and females.

A pie chart showing the current sexual identity of young people

…how many boyfriends/girlfriends they’ve had:

  • About half of young people had ever had a boyfriend or girlfriend by age 14-15 years

A pie chart showing the number of boyfriends or girlfriends young people have had

What we do with findings from the study

Findings from Growing Up in Australia are used to work out how to make things better for children and young people in the future.


Findings from Growing Up in Australia have already helped to make some really important changes in recent years, such as:

  • The introduction of Australia's first Paid Parental Leave Scheme
  • Changes to the Family Law system, including better protections for children at risk of child abuse and family violence
  • The National Partnership Agreement on Early Childhood Education (NP ECE), to ensure that every child has access to early-childhood education.

Media & publications

Findings from Growing Up in Australia regularly appear on the TV and radio news, and in shows such as The Project.

The ABC made a landmark documentary called the Life at… series (Life at 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9), which was based on the findings from Growing Up in Australia.

The last instalment of the Life at… series continued the ordinary and extraordinary life journey of eight Australian children as they learned to deal with life's hurdles and challenges at the pivotal age of 9.

The two episodes for Life at 9 focussed on the children's creativity and emerging independence.

The Life at... series can be purchased from the ABC shop.

In addition to media coverage, many researchers write journal articles and books, or give presentations about interesting things they have discovered using data from the study.

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Growing Up around the world: Overseas studies

Growing Up in Australia has been such a massive success that it has inspired other “Growing Up” studies.

Growing Up in New Zealand

Growing Up in New Zealand logo

Launched in 2010, the children in Growing Up in New Zealand completed wave 4 in 2016, when they were between 4 and 5 years old.

Growing Up in Scotland

Growing Up in Scotland logo

Growing Up in Scotland started in 2005, with two cohorts: a “Birth” cohort and a “Child” cohort. The Birth cohort consists of 5,000 children born in 2004/5. The Child cohort consists of 3,000 children who were born in 2002/3. And there is now a second Birth cohort of children born in 2010/11.

Growing Up in Ireland

Growing Up in Ireland logo

Growing Up in Ireland has two cohorts: a "Birth" cohort of 11,000 children who were less than 1 year old in 2008 (wave 1), and a "Child" cohort of 8,500 children who were 9 years old in wave 1.

Australia v Ireland

Australia vs Ireland

Check out some comparisons between the children in the "Child" cohorts of Australia and Ireland at 13 years.

Smoking: Have you ever tried smoking?

Fewer Australian young people have tried smoking than Irish young people.

A graph showing that fewer Australian young people have tried smoking than Irish young people

Drinking: Have you ever tried alcohol?

More Australian young people had tried alcohol in their lifetime, but fewer had drunk alcohol in the year they were interviewed, compared with Irish young people.

A graph showing how many young people have tried alcohol

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Project timeline

  • March-April 2003: Pilot test conducted

  • August 2003: Wave 1 data collection (first stage) commences

  • February 2004: Growing Up in Australia officially launched by The Hon. Kay Patterson, Minister for Family and Community Services, at the Melbourne Museum

  • May 2005: Both wave 1 data and first Annual Report released

  • September 2005, April 2006: Wave 2 data collection commences
  • 2006: Life at 1 documentary produced
  • October 2006: Two initial episodes of Life at 1 screen on ABC TV
  • 2007: Life at 2 website launched
  • September 2007: Wave 2 data released
  • December 2007: Inaugural LSAC conference held in Melbourne
  • July 2007: Wave 3 fieldwork commences
  • October 2008: Life at 3 documentary screened on ABC TV
  • August 2009: Wave 3 data released
  • August 2009: Wave 4 fieldwork commences.
  • December 2009: 2nd LSAC conference held in Melbourne
  • 2010: Life at 5 documentary produced
  • February 2011: Two episodes of Life at 5 screen on ABC1
  • June 2011, March 2012: Wave 5 fieldwork commences
  • November 2011: LSAC-LSIC Research Conference held in Melbourne.
  • 2011–12: Life at 7 documentary produced
  • October 2012: Two episodes of Life at 7 screen on ABC1
  • March 2013: Growing Up in Australia turns 10!
  • August 2013: Wave 6 fieldwork commences (first stage)
  • March 2014: Wave 5 data released
  • March 2014: Wave 6 fieldwork commences (second stage)
  • July/August 2014: Life at 9 documentary screens on ABC1
  • June 2015: Wave 7 fieldwork commences (first stage)
  • December 2015: Wave 6 data released
  • April 2016: Wave 7 fieldwork commences (second stage)
  • June 2017: Wave 8 fieldwork commences (first stage)
  • February 2018: Wave 8 fieldwork commences (second stage)

1 Get kids to bed early, parents warned

2 Transition to secondary school

3 Time use and children's social and emotional wellbeing and temperament

4 Dads need more family time

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