Australian Early Development Census (AEDC)

Australian Early Development Census Logo

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

The 2018 AEDC National Report and community profiles are now publically available through the AEDC website. With four sets of data, collected every three years since 2009, we now have valuable trend data to help governments of all levels and communities develop and tailor programs and policies to more effectively meet the needs children and families.

Over 96% of children in their first year of full-time school from across Australia contributed to the AEDC 2018 collection.

Key findings from the 2018 AEDC results show:

  • the percentage of children who are developmentally vulnerable on one or more of the five domains has dropped to 21.7 per cent in 2018, down from 22 per cent in 2015.
  • the gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children continues to narrow with the level of developmental vulnerability for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children decreasing to 41 per cent, down from 47 per cent in 2009.
  • promising improvements in the domains of physical health and wellbeing, social competence, communication and general knowledge.

Teachers of children in their first of year of full-time school complete a research tool, the Australian version of the Early Development Instrument (AvEDI), based on their knowledge and observations of the children in their class in their first year of full-time school. The AvEDI 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 continues to work with state and territory governments to undertake the 2018 AEDC national collection. Since 2002, the Australian Government has worked in partnership with eminent child health research institutes: the Telethon Kids Institute, Perth; the Centre for Community Child Health; and Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne; 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 2018 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. As additional time points are captured, the AEDC enables researchers, governments and communities to better track children's development over time and identify factors impacting on children's development.

The AEDC results can support communities to understand the proportion of children developmentally 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 program 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 2018 AEDC data collection are 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.

Fact sheets on how you can use the AEDC data are also available on the AEDC website under Using Your AEDC Results.