Philanthropy supports vital research to improve transition into adulthood

Since 2012, The Child to Adult Transition Study (CATS) has connected with over 1,000 children and young people each year to gain a better understanding of their experiences as they journey through childhood.  

These children were first recruited at eight when the study’s focus was on their transition to adolescence. Thanks to the continued support of philanthropy, the study is now moving beyond adolescence to focus on the transition experienced by the participants as they mature into young adults.  

This expansion in research objectives also resulted in a change in names. Previously ‘CATS’ was known as the ‘Child to Adolescent Transition Study’, but it now stands for the ‘Child to Adult Transition Study’.  

The study uses an annual survey to study health (both mental and physical health), education, training and employment. It also explores family relationships and friendships, behaviours and worries, including around climate change and financial stress.  

Thanks to the support of donors and organisations like Kmart, CATS researchers have been able to make groundbreaking findings in a deeply under-researched area, such as the timing of puberty, and the course of depression and anxiety across adolescence. 

According to Dr Nandi Vijayakumar, a senior research fellow at CATS, this work will inform new strategies, such as the best timing of preventive interventions around mental health and wellbeing that can help set children on a healthy course into adulthood.  

The CATS study focuses on the important transitions that young people go through during their life, including puberty, the move from primary school to secondary school, and the move from school into the workplace or further education.  

“CATS aims to understand these transitions in order to develop programs to improve this period of life for future young people,” Nandi explained.  

Nandi believes that the findings of the ongoing CATS study have the potential to help children right across Australia.  

“These data will help us to understand the impacts of mental health as children grow up. For example, how adversity and stress in early childhood affects different stages of development. This information will help us to inform prevention and intervention policies,” explained Nandi. 

On behalf of the CATS team, Nandi is incredibly grateful for the philanthropic support that helps make long-term studies like CATS possible.  

We are so grateful to have the support of donors like Kmart who have the vision to see that our research is a vital part of building healthy communities,” Nandi shared.