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Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) data to support policy and planning for early childhood development

The Australian Early Development Census (AEDC):

  • 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 five 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 governments of all levels to develop flexible approaches that address evolving needs of children and families.

Download the SA 2018 AEDC snapshot (PDF 1MB) and SA 2018 AEDC infographic (PDF 823KB).

Why the AEDC is useful for policy makers

The 2018 AEDC results show that 23.9% of South Australia’s children are developmentally vulnerable on 1 or more of the AEDC domains.

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.

The South Australian Outcomes Framework for Children and Young People sets out to monitor, track and report 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 in the framework.

To improve life course health, development, wellbeing and education outcomes for South Australia’s children requires all key stakeholders to 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.

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

Video transcript

Understanding the AEDC

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

Physical health and wellbeing

Emotional maturity

Language and cognitive skills (school based)

Communication skills and general knowledge

The next census will be held in 2021.

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.

Find out more about  the AEDC domains.

Download the 2018 AEDC questions.

Understanding the data video

Video transcript

Accessing AEDC data

National and state data are available in the 2018 AEDC National Report, national trends infographic and as an interactive chart showing trends in the AEDC from 2009-2018.

Community results are easily accessed in the AEDC data explorer, a free interactive data visualisation tool. Results are reported in maps, graphs and tables, available online and in reports called community profiles.

Data is summarised in community profiles alongside other relevant demographic data to provide an overview of the contexts of children in each community.

Additional data products by geographic area are accessible via the AEDC data explorer as well as links to ABS contextual data and the Population Health Information Development Unit (PHIDU) Social Health Atlases.

To request other AEDC data contact the Data Management Agency via support@aedc.gov.au or +61 3 9236 ​8530.

The reporting, publication and/or analysis of AEDC data and results must be in accordance with the AEDC data guidelines.

Using AEDC data

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 State Public Health Plan 2019-2024 is an example of the AEDC informing statewide strategic planning.

In the State Public Health Plan Indicators Framework the Promote domain includes Early childhood development as an indicator to be measured by 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.

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.

Find out more about applying for AEDC data.

How the AEDC team can help

The AEDC team can:

  • help understand 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