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Pubilication Date: 9 May 2022
A growing body of research highlights the importance of increasing children’s involvement in the measurement of their wellbeing. Using data from Australia, this paper outlines the first known attempt to apply an existing participatory wellbeing framework to a longitudinal dataset to measure child wellbeing over time. This approach enables analysis of the key areas where life could be improved for children based on what they themselves value, an examination of whether children are having wellbeing needs met in multiple dimensions and over time, and an exploration into the later wellbeing impacts of early life experiences. The results highlighted some areas of concern for children and young people in Australia, including the low proportion meeting the wellbeing threshold in health, and the high level of inequality within material basics when this is examined over time. We apply the measurement tool to examine the implications of being born into monetary poverty on later wellbeing outcomes. Being born into poverty was associated with poorer outcomes in almost all wellbeing areas (Loved & Safe, Material Basics, Learning and Participating) by age 6-7 years. While some of these associations diminished as children got older, being born into poverty had a continued relationship with poorer outcomes in Material Basics and Participating in all time points examined (up until age 12-13). In sum, this paper provides an illustration of how a child participatory wellbeing framework can be applied to a longitudinal dataset to measure wellbeing over time, highlighting how this approach can help to ensure policy more effectively creates measurable and meaningful change for children and young people.