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The papers in this publication have been developed from presentations made at a workshop held at the Australian Institute of Family Studies in 2001. The purpose of that meeting was to explore the possibility of establishing a national multidisciplinary research partnership focused on the needs of Australian children.

The first paper, 'New ways of causal pathways thinking for public health' by Fiona Stanley, Ann Sanson and Tony McMichael, argues that interdisciplinary research is now crucial in order to understand the causal pathways to good and poor developmental outcomes.

The second paper is 'The relevance of child and adolescent development for outcomes in education, health and life success' by Graham Vimpani, George Patton and Alan Hayes. It makes the case for the importance of experiences and environments in the early years for outcomes across the lifespan, and for the effectiveness of early intervention.

The third paper, 'Longitudinal studies of children and youth: implications for future studies' by Jan Nicholson, Ann Sanson, Lynn Rempel, Diana Smart and George Patton, helps to frame the role of the proposed new study by summarising existing longitudinal research on children in Australia and overseas. It identifies the strengths and limitations of various longitudinal designs, the contributions made by existing studies, and opportunities for new ones.   

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