Many children's lives were disrupted during the COVID-19 pandemic. In Australia, in 2021, this was most apparent in NSW, Victoria and the ACT, where extended lockdowns meant children often spent weeks or months in remote learning, which had implications for engagement in education as well as social connections.

Even beyond these jurisdictions, the impacts of COVID-19 were experienced by many parents and children. Border closures separated family members from one another, and concerns about the impacts of the virus were widespread.

This mixed-methods research report explores parents' concerns about their children's wellbeing during the pandemic, using the fourth Families in Australia Survey, which was conducted in November-December 2021. It draws on more than 2000 parents' ratings of their concerns about a range of dimensions of child wellbeing: educational engagement, mental health, physical health, connection to family and connection to peers and friends.

The report explores the varied impacts of COVID-19 on children of all ages below 18 years, and also delves into the experiences of families and the factors that parents say contributed to their children's wellbeing.

Key findings:

  • Around one in 10 survey respondents reported being extremely concerned about their child's wellbeing during the pandemic. Concerns were most prevalent for teenaged children.
  • Periods of remote learning longer than three months were strongly associated with higher concerns across all domains. However, after accounting for remote learning differences, being in a more COVID-affected state was not associated with higher concerns.
  • Parents of children with additional needs reported increased challenges with maintaining their children's wellbeing.
  • Parents' own mental health and wider family stresses also were impacted by the pandemic, which in turn impacted their ratings of their children's mental health.
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