March 20, 2024

The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC): A child and family service’s guide

Date: 28th July 2023

Mode: Online

Project: Child and Family Community Australia, Growing Up in Australia

Organisers: Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS)


  • Dr Lisa Mundy – Coordinator of methodology and fieldwork activities of the LSAC
  • Jasmine B. MacDonald – Research fellow and co-manager of the Child and Family Community Information Exchange.


This webinar explored key findings from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LASC). The study has a sample of 10,000 Australian children and their families and provides extensive data of various factors that impact experiences of growing up in Australia – “if you’re interested in it, LSAC is probably measuring it,”  

Who is this relevant for  

This webinar is highly relevant to practitioners and program managers using evidence to inform their program or service delivery in child and families services. The webinar demonstrates the importance of the LSAC research, how it can be used and the strength, validity, and reliability of this study.  

Key Messages 

The data is complex and extensive 

  • Now up to its 10th wave of data collection, the LSAC is unique in its length and sample size.  
  • Beginning with a cohort of 5,000 participants in 2004 aged between 0 -1 year and 5,000 participants aged between 4-5 years, the participants are now aged between 19-25.  
  • Data is collected every two years and asks the young people about their experiences, along with seeing the views of their parents, educators and other people involved in their community. This allows for a very detailed description of young people’s experience of growing up in Australia. These multiple perspectives allows the researchers to build a “picture of information.’’ For example, during early childhood years parents can provide relevant information about the child’s behaviour, as the young person grows, their voice and experiences becomes the prominent voice. Gathering data from many sources allows for a very detailed picture of their experiences. 
  • The study also gathers data from linking information sources such as NAPLAN and MBS (Medical Benefits Schedule) adding further depth and complexity to the data. 

The data can improve policy and practice for child and family outcomes 

  • Following the same families over time allows the researchers to evaluate patterns. For example, does social media increase poor mental health outcomes or are young people with high emotional problems more likely to use social media. The longitudinal data allows researchers to establish the direction of influence.  
  • The robustness of this evidence can be used to ensure evidence-based policy and program design and encourage interventions and supports to be implemented during key development stages in children and young people’s lives.  

All the data is freely available.

  • Growing up in Australia website has snapshots of many different areas of interest that the study has investigated.  
  • The Department of Social Services makes all the data available for any organisations wishing to use the evidence to inform a program or service delivery and can be accessed through the Growing up In Australia website.  
  • The website also offers information on how to use and the understand the data. Growing up Australia also provides workshops to help practitioners and program managers disseminate the information provided.  

Key Resources

  • LSAC data user guide: This user guide is a reference tool for user to engage with LSAC data. It discusses survey methodology, file structure and naming of variables. It provides specific information to ensure the use of LSAC data is used appropriately in research.  
  • Accessing LSAC data: This page provides instruction and assistance in accessing LSAC data to use in your own research.  
  • Snapshot Series: This page provides brief and accessible summaries of policy relevant research findings from Growing up in Australia.  

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