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Investing time, effort and resources in children’s early years – when their brains are developing rapidly – brings lifelong benefits to them and to the whole community.
The environments and experiences children are exposed to from pregnancy through to school age shape their development.
The Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) measures how children have developed by the time they start their first year of full-time school. The AEDC collects data every three years in schools across Australia and reports children’s results in 5 key areas of early childhood development called domains.
South Australia’s 2018 AEDC results show that while more than 50% of children are developmentally on track, some are developmentally at risk and nearly 1 in 4 children are arriving at school developmentally vulnerable on 1 or more AEDC domains.
Developmental vulnerability on 1 or more AEDC domains can affect lifelong education, health and wellbeing outcomes.
The AEDC can be used as a holistic measure of child development in your community and help you understand how to best support children and families.
There are developmentally vulnerable children in all South Australian communities.
Some communities have seen improvement in their AEDC results over time.
The AEDC provides a strong evidence base that community organisations and local government can use in collaborative planning, implementation and evaluation.
The AEDC provides comprehensive early childhood data at a community, jurisdictional and national level. It measures 5 important areas of early childhood development called domains.
The AEDC is completed by teachers of children in their first year of full time school. It is important that all government, independent and Catholic schools participate in the census so that every community can receive data about their children.
Data is summarised in community profiles alongside other relevant demographic data to provide an overview of the contexts of children in each community.
This information can help communities understand the environments and experiences that are shaping children’s development in the early years.
Watch the understanding the data video
Community results are easily accessed in the AEDC data explorer, a free interactive data visualisation tool.
Other data products by geographic area can be accessed via the AEDC data explorer. It also links to ABS contextual data and the Population Health Information Development Unit (PHIDU) Social Health Atlases.
When community organisations and local governments use the AEDC as a source of evidence this can contribute to improving children’s likelihood of developing on track and help build thriving communities.
Mid Murray family connections tells the story of how a collective effort of a network of over 60 stakeholders is responding to the AEDC results and seeing positive change in the Mid Murray community. There are many community stories like this from around Australia that can support others to think about how to reflect on and respond to their AEDC data.
If you have an AEDC story to share, please email Education.AEDCTeam@sa.gov.au.
Use the AEDC as an evidence base to:
- inform policy and planning such as strategic plans, regional public health plans
- review services
- allocate resources and assets
- inform grant processes
- inform collaborative approaches and community engagement
- inform evaluations
- measure progress over time.
The reporting, publication or analysis of AEDC data and results must be in accordance with the AEDC data guidelines.
Find out more about using the data
The Local Government Association SA website has information about planning for public health and community wellbeing.
These resources can be used in your work with families to support children’s development in the 5 AEDC domains.
Supporting early childhood development guides
Supporting early childhood development guide: physical health and wellbeing
This fact sheet provides examples of behaviours through which adults can support children’s development of physical health and wellbeing.Supporting early childhood development guide: physical health and wellbeing
Supporting early childhood development guide: social competence
This fact sheet provides examples of behaviours through which adults can support children’s development of social competence.Supporting early childhood development guide: social competence
Supporting early childhood development guide: emotional maturity
This fact sheet provides examples of behaviours through which adults can support children’s development of emotional maturity.Supporting early childhood development guide: emotional maturity
Supporting early childhood development guide: language and cognitive skills (school-based)
This fact sheet provides examples of behaviours through which adults can support children’s development of language and cognitive skills (school-based).Supporting early childhood development guide: language and cognitive skills (school-based)
Supporting early childhood development guide: communication skills and general knowledge
This fact sheet provides examples of behaviours through which adults can support children’s development of communication skills and general knowledge.Supporting early childhood development guide: communication skills and general knowledge
The parent page includes links to a range of sources of further information.
The AEDC team can:
- help understand your community results
- help understand demographic factors that may be making a difference
- support using the AEDC data.
SA AEDC State Coordinator
Email: Education.AEDCTeam [at] sa.gov.au