The NSW Child Development Study (NSW-CDS) is an intergenerational record linkage study which combines routinely collected data from state and commonwealth departments (spanning health, education, justice, child protection and welfare records) with cross-sectional survey data, for a NSW population cohort of over 90,000 children being followed from birth to adulthood. This study design facilitates novel insights into the development of mental disorders across the life-course, with consideration of intersecting mental health, justice, education, and physical health problems.


Study name

NSW Child Development Study

Study abbreviation NSW-CDS
Current principal investigator/s

Professor Melissa Green

Professor Vaughan Carr

Professor Kimberlie Dean

Professor Kristin Laurens

Current project manager Professor Melissa Green and Ms Felicity Harris
Cohort representative (study contact) Professor Melissa Green
Postal address UNSW School of Clinical Medicine, Discipline of Psychiatry and Mental Health, AGSM Building, Botany Street, Kensington, NSW, 2052, Australia
Phone 02 9065 1099 
Primary Institution University of New South Wales
Collaborating Institution/s Queensland University of Technology, Griffith University, Charles Sturt University.
Major funding sources ARC and NHMRC
Study website
Key reference

Green, M.J., Harris, F, Laurens, K.R., Tzoumakis, S., Dean, K., Brinkman, S., Chilvers, M., Sprague, T., Stevens, R., Carr, V.J. (2018). The New South Wales Child Development Study (NSW-CDS) – Wave 2 (Child age 13 years). International Journal of Epidemiology, 45(5), 1396-1397k. doi:10.1093/ije/dyy115

Carr, V.J., Harris, F., Raudino, A., Luo, L., Kariuki, M., Liu, E., Tzoumakis, S., Smith, M., Holbrook, A., Bore, M., Brinkman, S.A., Lenroot, R.K., Dix, K., Dean, K., Laurens, K.R., Green, M.J. (2016). Cohort Profile: The New South Wales Child Development Study (NSW-CDS) – An Australian multi-agency, multi-generational, longitudinal record linkage study. BMJ Open, 6(2), e009023. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2015-009023

Laurens, K.R., Tzoumakis, S., Dean, K., Brinkman, S.A., Bore, M., Lenroot, R.K., Smith, M., Holbrook, A., Robinson K.M., Stevens, R., Harris, F., Carr, V.J., Green, M.J (2017). The 2015 Middle Childhood Survey (MCS) of mental health and well-being at age 11 years in an Australian population cohort. BMJ Open, 7(6), e016244. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2017-016244.

Are data available outside study team? Data access is limited to the study team, owing to privacy legislation and ethical restrictions placed on the use of deidentified multi-agency linked government data. Collaborative research activities may be possible depending on scope and resources.
Study focus We aim to provide comprehensive information about the life-course development of mental health problems, and associated physical health, education, social, and justice sequelae.
Sampling frame The NSW-CDS child cohort is defined on the basis of assessment with the Australian Early Development Census at school entry in 2009 (child age 5-6 years) and/or assessment with the investigator-led self-report Middle Childhood Survey in 2015 (child age 11-12 years), which together captured more than 91,000 children growing up in New South Wales. The NSW-CDS parent cohort is defined through linked NSW birth registration records for these children.
Year commenced 2013 (for children born 2002-2005)
Commencement sample

Wave 1 Linkage (2013) = 87,026 children (AEDC only)

Wave 2 Linkage (2016) = 91,635 children (AEDC + MCS)

Wave 3 Linkage (2021) = 91,597 children (AEDC + MCS)

Intergenerational? Yes. The latest linkage (Wave 3) includes parent data for 74,519 unique mothers and 74,042 unique fathers.
Imaging No

Linked records span vital statistics (births, mortality), physical and mental health (MBS, PBS, Admitted Patients, Emergency Department, Perinatal, Controlled Drugs, Mental Health Ambulatory, MHOAT), education (NAPLAN, suspensions/expulsions, enrolment, BSKA, disability), child protection (notifications, substantiations, out-of-home-care, intervention services), criminal justice system contacts (reoffending charges and custody, police contact) and welfare data (DOMINO) for children in the cohort, as well as their parents; in addition to cross-sectional assessments of development at age ~5 years (AEDC) and mental health and wellbeing at ~11 years (MCS, which provides information on the thoughts, feelings, actions and experiences of >27,000 children).

These linked data are made available to the researchers without any identifying information (i.e., there are no names or identity details provided to the researchers, so that none of the participants in the study can be identified by the research team under any circumstances)

Biosamples? No
Ethics approvals or requirements? Approved by NSW Population & Health Services Research Ethics Committee, ACT Health HREC, AIHW HREC as well as data custodians.


Wave Year Age (mean, range) Eligible sample
1 2013 Birth to age ~5 years 87,026 children
2 2016 Birth to age ~13 years 91,635 children
3 2021 Birth to age ~18 years 91,597 children