On this page
- is a nationwide census held every 3 years (since 2009) in government, Catholic and independent schools
- is a measure of how young children have developed by the time they start their first year of full-time school
- is a holistic measure of early child development at a community, jurisdictional, and national level
- is predictive of later health and educational outcomes
- is reflective of the environments and cumulative experiences of children in the first 5 years of life.
The AEDC is used as evidence to support policy, planning and action for health, education and community support. Identifying trends and pointing to where improvements are needed will assist in targeting policy, legislation, funding and services. The AEDC can assist all levels of government to develop flexible approaches that address evolving needs of children and families.
South Australia’s improvement in the 2021 census compares favourably to a national trend of increased vulnerability; however, our rates of developmental vulnerability continue to be higher than most other jurisdictions. Nearly a quarter (23.8%) of South Australian reception students had 1 or more developmental vulnerabilities in 2021, a 0.1% decrease since 2018.
The 2021 data also shows a 0.5% improvement to 53.7% in the number of children who were on track across the 5 areas of development (physical health and wellbeing, social competence, emotional maturity, language and cognitive skills, communication skills and general knowledge).
Investing in the early years can reduce expenditure on special education, criminal justice and welfare, and increase national productivity by improving the skills of the workforce, reducing disadvantage and strengthening the global competitiveness of the economy.
In 2019 the South Australian Child Development Council established the South Australian Outcomes Framework for Children and Young People (PDF 1.11MB), which monitors, tracks and reports the outcomes of our state’s children and young people (birth to 18 years) in 5 dimensions: health, safety, wellbeing, education and citizenship. The AEDC is a measure in the education dimension of the framework. Find out more about the South Australian Child Development Council.
To improve life course health, development, wellbeing and education outcomes for South Australia’s children, all key stakeholders must work together to ensure that children and families can access the right mix of universal and targeted services at the right time in a child’s life.
With no significant shift in South Australia’s AEDC results over the last 13 years, the Office for the Early Years has been established to drive reductions in childhood development vulnerabilities. The office was established as a single point of leadership for early years services across government and to report on outcomes in the early years. The office will partner with key agencies including the Women’s and Children’s Health Network, the Department of Human Services and Wellbeing SA, as well as with local government, non-government organisations, universities and communities.
For more information, you can:
- read more about why the AEDC is important
- download a summary for policy makers and governments
- read the user guide for policy makers and government executive
- read the user guide for local government.
Informing your planning
The AEDC provides comprehensive early childhood data at a community, jurisdictional and national level.
The AEDC measures 5 important areas of early childhood development called domains:
The AEDC instrument questions are completed by teachers of children in their first year of full-time school. This provides a unique population level snapshot of child development that is being used as an important evidence base by researchers, policy makers, service providers, local governments, schools and early childhood education and care.
Understanding the data video
The AEDC results are available at a national, state, community and school level. Results can be accessed in a range of ways.
National AEDC website
Data is available in the following formats:
- AEDC national results and trend reports
- 2021 key findings infographic
- an interactive chart showing AEDC trends from 2009 to 2021
- community results, which provide an overview of the contexts of children in each community, can be accessed in:
- the AEDC data explorer
- Community profile (report), map, graph and table format, which includes other relevant demographic data
- additional data products, including:
- geographical areas
- ABS contextual data
- the Population Health Information Development Unit's Social Health Atlases.
The reporting, publication and/or analysis of AEDC data and results must be in accordance with the AEDC data guidelines.
You can view interactive maps displaying 2018 AEDC results for South Australia on the Location SA map viewer. Metadata is also available for 2009, 2012, 2015 and 2018 collections providing information on children developmentally ‘on track’ in all 5 domains (OT5) and developmentally vulnerable on 1 or more domains. Additional data is being added to the platform over time (including the 2021 data) to help communities and governments to explore their data in a familiar platform that can also overlay other relevant datasets like locations of services.
Department for Education
Data on government schools may be available upon request. School level reports are not publicly available. Schools may choose to share their information with stakeholders to inform local policy, planning and programs. Find out more about requesting AEDC school data to inform policy.
The AEDC can help you keep children at the centre of your thinking when developing policy and planning.
Use the AEDC as an evidence base to:
- inform policy and strategic planning
- review services to ensure they are supporting families and children
- examine solutions to barriers to access for families
- inform resource allocation and use of assets
- inform grant processes
- inform collaborative approaches
- plan responses to key national, state and local government strategic frameworks
- evaluate the impact of policies and services
- measure progress overtime.
The new 10-year Early Learning Strategy has been developed in response to the increasing percentage of children developmentally vulnerable in South Australia, recognising the importance of early childhood learning and development. This strategy seeks to provide strategic vision and direction across the early years system in South Australia through the new Office for the Early Years, in the Department for Education. Progress will be monitored over the next 10 years, including against the AEDC.
An example of how policy makers use the AEDC:
- The State Public Health Plan 2019-2024 is an example of the AEDC informing statewide strategic planning.
- The 'promote' domain of the Public Health Indicators Framework uses 'early childhood development' as an indicator to be measured using the AEDC.
- In turn, the State Public Health Plan is informed by local government Regional Public Health Plans which can use the AEDC as an evidence base in regional and local planning.
How you can get started using the AEDC for policy planning and development:
- read South Australian case studies to get inspiration for how you might use the AEDC
- download the regional public health planning: using AEDC data guide (PDF 1.1MB) to support your planning process.
If you have an AEDC story to share, please email Education.AEDCTeam@sa.gov.au.
The AEDC team can:
- help understand community results
- help understand demographic factors that may be making a difference
- support using the AEDC data.
Find contact details for the AEDC on their website.
SA AEDC State Coordinator
Email: Education.AEDCTeam [at] sa.gov.au