Footprints in Time - The Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children (LSIC)

The Footprints in Time team acknowledges and pays respect to the past, present and emerging Traditional Custodians and Elders of this nation and the continuation of cultural, spiritual and educational practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that this website may contain images and names of deceased persons.

Are you part of the Footprints in Time family?

Keeping in touch

Please keep in touch! If you have moved, are going to move or have changed your contact details please let us know by:

  • Contacting your interviewer (also known as RAO or Research Administration Officer)
  • Emailing; or
  • Calling our free call number 1800 106 235.

The Footprints in Time Team appreciates you keeping in touch and letting us know your updated contact details.

Providing feedback and sharing stories

If you have anything you would like to share with us about being in the study, please contact us using the contact details listed above.

Your feedback and stories are important to the Footprints in Time Team and we appreciate you taking the time to share them with us.

Concerns or complaints?

If you have any concerns or complaints you can contact the Executive Officer, Human Research Ethics Committee of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS), AIATSIS, 51 Lawson Crescent, Acton ACT 2601 or by email:

Data collection in 2021 – Wave 14

Data is usually collected by departmental Research Administration Officers (RAOs) who visit Footprints in Time families and conduct face-to-face interviews between February and December each year.

Footprints in Time Research Administration OfficersFootprints in Time Research Administration Officers (interviewers)
Back row, left to right – Annie, Sandra, Geraldine, Jon
Front row, left to right – Gale, Cher, Kathleen, Chris, LIsa

Due to the risk posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, face-to-face interviewing was not conducted in 2020. Instead, telephone interviews were conducted between June and December 2020.

In order to minimise the risk of Coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission, face-to-face interviews will only be conducted where and when it is safe to do so in 2021. RAOs will contact Footprints in Time families to let them know when we will be doing interviews in their local area and to seek their agreement to conduct an interview. Participants will be provided with the choice of participating in a telephone interview or, where it is assessed as safe to do so, a face-to-face interview.

If you are a Footprints in Time family and would prefer to do a telephone interview in 2021, please contact the Footprints in Time team to arrange a suitable time for an interview, by calling our free call number 1800 106 235 or emailing

COVID-19 Protections

The Footprints in Time team are committed to undertaking annual Longitudinal Survey of Indigenous Children (LSIC) surveys in a COVID safe manner.

To slow the spread of COVID-19, we all have a personal responsibility to abide by physical distancing and personal hygiene arrangements.

Physical Distancing

While we are always pleased to visit all Footprints in Time families, our Research Administration Officers (RAOs), who conduct the LSIC interviews, will maintain a physical distance of 1.5 metres when conducting face-to-face interviews.

Where possible, we would prefer to conduct the LSIC interviews in areas with adequate airflow (e.g. outside).


To protect everyone’s health and wellbeing, our RAOs will not do any face-to-face interviews if they are experiencing any COVID-19, cold or flu like symptoms.

We also ask that Footprints in Time families notify us if anyone in your house is experiencing any cold or flu like symptoms. We will offer you the choice of a telephone interview or rescheduling your face to-face interview if you or anyone in your house is unwell.

Face Masks

RAOs will be able to provide you with a disposable face mask if you would like to wear one while you are being interviewed.

RAOs will also wear a face mask if you want them to.

Hand Sanitiser and Anti-bacterial Wipes

Prior to and after each interview, RAOs will wash their hands using hand sanitiser and will wipe down all of their equipment using anti-bacterial wipes. We do this to keep everyone safe from the potential transmission of the COVID-19 virus.

Hands-free Forehead Thermometer

Each RAO has a hands-free forehead thermometer which can be used to measure each LSIC participant’s temperature if you are concerned you may have a fever.

If you have any questions or concerns about these protections, please contact the Footprints in Time team by calling 1800 106 235 (free call) or emailing

Details on the Australian, State and Territory Governments response to the coronavirus can be found at

About the study

Footprints in Time is the name given to the Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children (LSIC), an initiative of the Australian Government. Footprints in Time is conducted by the Department of Social Services (DSS) under the guidance of the Footprints in Time Steering Committee, chaired by Professor Mick Dodson AM. LSIC is one of a suite of longitudinal studies within the National Centre for Longitudinal Data (NCLD) in DSS.

The study includes two groups of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander youth who were aged 6 to 18 months (B cohort) and 3½ - 5 years (K cohort) when the study began in 2008.

The Footprints in Time families are located in many urban, regional and remote areas across Australia.

Location of LSIC families (n=1,255) participating in LSIC Wave 8.

In wave 1, over 1,680 interviews were conducted with the youth’s parents or primary carers (usually the mothers) and over 265 interviews were conducted with fathers or other significant carers. Subsequent waves experienced strong support from these initial interviewees. Additional families were introduced within our wave 2 interviews and have shown a similarly strong commitment to Footprints in Time. To date, Footprints in Time interviewers have successfully contacted and interviewed over 1,200 of these original families in each subsequent annual wave other than 2020 when COVID-19 limited our ability to contact as many Footprints in Time families.

Interviews are primarily conducted by Department of Social Services Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research Administration Officers (RAOs). Interviews may also be conducted by other National Office Indigenous and non-Indigenous staff when required.

Topics addressed by the study

The study covers a wide variety of topics about health, learning and development, the study youth’s family and community, for example:

  • Study youth’s physical and mental health and social and cognitive development
  • Early childhood learning and education
  • Study youth’s diet, height and weight
  • Direct assessments of Study youth’s literacy, numeracy and reasoning
  • Study youth’s access to technology, cyber safety and mobile phone use
  • Values and aspirations
  • Culture and language
  • Parent’s health, social and emotional wellbeing
  • Parent’s social networks and support, access to services
  • Parental education, work and finances
  • Major life events, life satisfaction
  • Experience of racism and discrimination
  • Family composition and family relationships
  • Family history and connection to country and culture
  • Study youth and parent engagement with school
  • Parenting styles, parenting empowerment and efficacy
  • Gambling
  • Substance use
  • Negative social behaviours and contact with the justice system
  • Housing, housing problems and homelessness
  • School, teacher and class characteristics, classroom resources
  • Community resources and community safety.

Survey Participant Privacy

Your privacy is very important to us. Strict procedures are followed to ensure that only authorised people have access to the information provided to us and that all interviewers, researchers and others involved in the study comply with the Privacy Act 1988.

For parents/guardians

You will be asked to participate in either a face-to face or telephone interview.

Personal information about you may also be collected from the study youth and the study youth’s other parent.

Examples of personal information that may be collected include financial support provided to the study youth, education, work, income and contact details.

For study youth

Personal and sensitive information is collected about you from your parents/guardians. This information relates to education, work, health, and behaviour including personality and family relationships. If you have a parent living in a separate household, similar information about you may also be collected from them.

If your parent or carer provides permission, personal information may also be collected about you from your teacher, principal and/or Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Education Officer. This includes information about your school behaviour, programs and activities.

For other members of households where an interview is conducted

For people who live with someone who participates in a Footprints in Time interview, the following personal and sensitive information is collected about you: name, gender, age, date of birth, language, Indigenous status, caring needs and activities you do with the study youth. This information helps us better understand the household study youth are living in.

Footprints in Time keeps your information private

All information collected is kept strictly confidential (except where it is required to be reported by law and/or there is a risk of harm to yourself or others).

To ensure that your privacy is maintained, no personal identifying information will be released to any person or department except if you write to us and ask us to.

Participation in this study is voluntary and the data will only be used for:

  • Statistical purposes; and
  • Maintaining contact with study participants for the purposes of the study.

The data that Footprints in Time gives to researchers and policy makers never includes your private information like your name, address or any other identifying information.

If you tell us you don’t want to include your responses or responses concerning you in Footprints in Time data, we will remove it from future data releases.

Under the Privacy Act 1988, you are entitled to access or seek correction of, personal information held about you by the study. You can do this any time by contacting the Footprints in Time team on 1800 106 235 or

The Department’s privacy policy can be found at:

Planning of future waves

Content of the future waves of data collection is created through consultations with government agencies, community stakeholders, academic institutions, and working reference groups. The content for each wave of data collection is approved by the Footprints in Time Steering Committee; ethical clearance for the content and fieldwork processes is obtained from the Human Research Ethics Committee of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS).

If you have suggestions for the content of future waves of data collection, please contact

Data access

LSIC aims to provide high quality quantitative and qualitative data that can be used to provide a better insight into how a child’s early years affect their development.

LSIC data can be accessed from the Australian Data Archive Dataverse platform. Dataverse provides no cost data access and allows authorised data users to download the datasets to their password-protected PC, secure network or approved cloud.

Each release of LSIC contains data from all waves (from wave 1 to the latest available wave). Data documentation (including a Data User Guide, Data Dictionary, mark-up questionnaires and technical papers for the study) is available for download on the LSIC Dataverse page. The data is released in SAS, SPSS and Stata formats.

Further information on applying for the data is available from Access to DSS Longitudinal Datasets web-page or from LSIC page on Dataverse.


Key Summary Reports

Key Summary Reports provide a selection of research findings from the following waves.

A decade of data

A Decade of Data: Findings from the first 10 years of Footprints in Time follows the developmental pathways of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children focussing on what helps Indigenous children ‘grow up strong’. 

The report includes information about what has changed for families since the interviews first started, racism and discrimination, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language at home and at school, school engagement, sleep, diet, exercise, dental health and how teaching Indigenous history and culture is associated with better literacy and numeracy.

Footprints in Time Wave 5 cover      Footprints in Time Key Summary Report from Wave 5

Document cover image for Time Key Summary Report from Wave 4      Footprints in Time Key Summary Report from Wave 4

Cover of a publication called 'Footprints in Time Key Summary Report from Wave 3'      Footprints in Time Key Summary Report from Wave 3

Cover of a publication called 'Footprints in Time Key Summary Report from Wave 2'       Footprints in Time Key Summary Report from Wave 2

Key Summary Report from Wave 1 book cover       Footprints in Time Key Summary Report from Wave 1

Footprints in Time Family feedback

LSIC is committed to providing feedback to Footprints in Time families participating in the study. This is done through the regular mail out of newsletters that include selected findings about the Footprints in Time families and communities where they live.

If you are participating in the study and have not recently received your newsletter, please contact us at and we will send a copy to you.

Research publications

The NCLD publishes Data Highlights and Research Summaries about various topics using LSIC and other longitudinal data sets including:

Publications relating to the study’s development can be found here:

For further bibliographic details of research material using data from LSIC you can access The Department of Social Services' Longitudinal Surveys Electronic Research archive (FLoSse), which contains information related to all longitudinal surveys conducted by DSS.

Contact details

For general enquiries about Footprints in Time - The Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children:

Thank you Videos

We thank all the parents, study youth and teachers who have contributed to Footprints in Time over many years.

We asked study youth in the study who their role models were – now we get to hear from some of those role models and some of the people who use the data. These Footprints in Time clips feature Eddie Betts, Greg Inglis, Samantha Harris and Mick Dodson.

Let us know what you think by calling 1800 106 235 or emailing

Thank you - Parents Transcript

Thank you - Study Youth Transcript

Related information

Last updated: