1. School Age
  2. Development
  3. Understanding development

Australian Early Development Census (AEDC)

4-6 years

Every three years, information is collected about how Australian children have developed by the time they start their first year of full-time school. This collection is called the Australian Early Development Census (AEDC). AEDC data is used to plan education, health and community activities.

What is the Australian Early Development Census (AEDC)?

The Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) collects information about how Australian children are developing in all the different communities across Australia.

The Australian Early Development Census looks at five key areas of child development:

  • physical health and wellbeing – how fit and well our children are
  • social competence – the skills our children use to get along with others
  • emotional maturity – how our children handle their feelings
  • language skills and cognitive skills (school based) – the skills our children use to speak, understand and think, based on the types of educational activities they do at school
  • communication skills and general knowledge – what our children know, and all the different ways they communicate this.

The Australian Early Development Census looks at these areas in the first year of formal full-time school. Looking at them at this time tells us about how healthy and capable children might be and what their needs might be, as they grow up and become adults. This helps governments plan for better health, education and community services for you and your children.

Results from the 2015 AEDC show that overall the development of Australian children has improved since 2009. But one in five Australian children is still ‘developmentally at risk’.

Collecting AEDC information

AEDC information is collected through a checklist of 100 questions about the five areas of child development listed above.

Your child’s teacher completes the checklist for each child in the class, based on what the teacher knows about each child. The teacher puts the answers to the checklist into a secure computer system.

You and your child don’t have to do anything. In fact, your child isn’t even there when the teacher completes the checklist.

The Australian Early Development Census isn’t a test, and you can’t get individual results for your child. But you can get results for your community and compare these to other communities in Australia.

You can opt out by telling your child’s teacher or the school principal that you don’t want the teacher to do a checklist for your child.

You’ll get a letter about the Australian Early Development Census, which gives you more information about it. You can get the letter in 10 different community languages as well as English.

Privacy protection

When filling out the checklist, the teacher will enter your child’s name and details, but this information isn’t included in the data that is analysed as part of AEDC results. Also, the computer system used for the Australian Early Development Census is secure, and your child’s information is stored securely there.

It isn’t possible to identify individual children in AEDC results, so you won’t get individual results for your child. You can also be confident that your child won’t be named in any AEDC information. 

Using AEDC results

AEDC results are presented according to the local community or area where you live. This lets your community see how its children are developing compared with other children across Australia. 

It also helps government services and community organisations work out how they can best support children and families in the years before school.

For example, AEDC results can:

  • show how community resources like playgroups, health centres and libraries can be used better
  • give schools, kindergartens, preschools, playgroups, local government agencies, health centres, libraries and other local organisations new ideas for working together
  • help schools look at how local children are developing and make plans for supporting their needs when they start school.

More about the Australian Early Development Census

The Australian Government works with state and territory governments and research organisations to collect AEDC data nationally every three years.

The Australian Early Development Census used to be called the Australian Early Development Index or AEDI. It was run nationally for the first time in 2009. The second AEDC data collection was in 2012, and the latest AEDC data collection was in 2015.

The results of the 2015 Australian Early Development Census were released in March 2016.

The results are provided through a national report, online community maps and community profiles.

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Last updated or reviewed
06-02-2017

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Raising Children Network is supported by the Australian Government. Member organisations are the Parenting Research Centre and the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute with The Royal Children’s Hospital Centre for Community Child Health.

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