Middle Childhood Survey Information for Parents / Caregivers

What is the NSW Child Development Study?

The NSW Child Development Study (NSW-CDS) is a longitudinal study of mental health and wellbeing in children who were assessed using the Australian Early Development Index in 2009. This project aims to map patterns of resilience and vulnerability for later mental health, education, work, and other outcomes. You can read detailed information about the study on our website.


Why is it important?

The NSW-CDS will provide unique information and raise awareness about child developmental pathways that can be used by schools, governments, and other organisations to develop policies and programs that promote the healthy development of all Australian children. This information is crucial for children to develop into successful learners, confident and creative individuals, and healthy, active and informed adults.


What is the Middle Childhood Survey (MCS)?

The MCS is one component of the NSW-CDS. It measured the mental health and wellbeing of NSW children in Year 6 in 2015. The MCS gathered information directly from the children about their thoughts, feelings, actions, and experiences.


How will the information be used?

Information from the MCS is being analysed by the research team to identify childhood factors that influence resilience and vulnerability for later mental health and other outcomes. To do this, MCS data is being combined with records from other organisations using record linkage, which may include, but is not limited to, child and parent records from health (e.g., hospital admissions), education (e.g., literacy and numeracy skills), welfare (e.g., community services), and justice (e.g., crime statistics). For more information on how we do this anonymously, please see Information about Record Linkage or view the attached figure that shows linkage in simplified form. 


Is this information anonymous?

Absolutely. None of the information provided to researchers can be traced back to either you or your child. We describe how we keep your information private further on in this brochure. You can be assured that any study findings will be reported in such a way that individuals, schools, and small communities cannot be identified publicly.  


How was the MCS completed?

Most children completed the MCS in class using school computers, with responses recorded anonymously. There were no researchers at schools, and the survey was designed for students to complete themselves. There was an audio-version of the survey for children who needed help with reading.                                        


What does it mean for my child?

Participation may not provide any direct or immediate benefits for you or your child. However, in the long-term, the answers your child provides to the survey will help governments and schools to develop policies and programs that benefit all Australian children. If the survey leads your child to think about things that upset them, there are supports to help you deal with this.


Who has access to the data?

Only the researchers running the study, in collaboration with the study partners or stakeholders, have access to anonymous MCS responses, and the University of New South Wales acts as the custodian of MCS data to be used in future linkage projects. See Information about Record Linkage for more detailed information about data accessibility.  


Who organises the NSW Child Development Study?

The NSW-CDS is led by the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and involves collaboration with the Universities of Newcastle, Western Australia, and Canterbury (NZ), and partnerships with Government organisations including the NSW Department of Education and Communities, NSW Ministry of Health, and the NSW Department of Family and Community Services. For more information, see Who We Are.


Who is funding the research?

Financial and in-kind support for the NSW-CDS is provided from multiple sources, including: the Australian Research Council, the National Health and Medical Research Council, Australian Rotary Health, and with the support of the NSW Department of Education and Communities, Ministry of Health, and Department of Family and Communities.


Where can I find out more?

Website: http://nsw-cds.com.au

Email: info@nsw-cds.com.au

Toll-free information hotline: 1800 901 922

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/NSW-Child-Development-Study/245922892280196

Twitter: https://twitter.com/NSWCDS