Australian Early Development Census

Australian Early Development Census Logo

The Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) is a population measure of how young children in Australia have developedby the time they start their first year of full-time school. The AEDC looks at groups of children in the community, not individuals.

The Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) formerly known as the Australian Early Development Index (AEDI) is an Australian Government initiative that helps create a snapshot of early childhood development that shows how young children in Australia have developed as they start their first year of full-time school.

The 2015 AEDC data collection was the third national collection, collecting data on 302,003 children in Australia representing 96.7 per cent of children in their first year of school.

The data collected from the AEDC helps governments and communities to understand what policies and practices are working and what could be improved to better support children and their families.

Teachers of children in their first of year of full-time school complete a research tool, the Australian version of the Early Development Instrument, based on their knowledge and observations of the children in their class in their first year of full-time school. The Australian version of the Early Development Instrument measures five important areas of their early childhood development.

These five areas – also called domains – are closely linked to the child’s health, education and social outcomes as they grow into their adulthood:

  • physical health and wellbeing

  • social competence

  • emotional maturity

  • language and cognitive skills (school based)

  • communication skills and general knowledge.

The Australian Government is working with state and territory governments and the Social Research Centre to implement the AEDC. Since 2002, the Australian Government has worked in partnership with eminent child health research institutes: the Centre for Community Child Health; Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne; and the Telethon Kids Institute, Perth; to deliver the AEDC to communities nationwide.

Who benefits?

The AEDC results are available online and the data are available to government agencies, researchers and practitioners across all disciplines. These statistics will be used to inform early childhood education and care policy at government, community and school level. Copies of the 2015 AEDC National Report, online community maps and community profiles can be found on the AEDC website.

AEDC data reflects the environments and experiences children are exposed to from when they are born to school age. With data sets covering three collections, results from 2009, 2012 and 2015, the AEDC can be compared to identify emerging trends in early childhood development across Australia.

The AEDC results can support communities to understand the proportion of children vulnerable on one or more domains within their community. Communities can use their AEDC results to engage and collaborate with local schools and early childhood providers to plan actions to better support local children and their families.

AEDC results are already shaping the design and application of early childhood programmes and policies with the aim of making sure children are offered a safe, nurturing and learning environment where they can grow and thrive. Specific examples of how communities have used AEDC results can be found on the AEDC website.

The results of the 2015 AEDC data collection are now available on the AEDC website

Find out more

The AEDC website is for everyone interested in learning more about how the AEDC helps shape the future and wellbeing of children in Australia.