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Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) data to support research into early childhood development

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The Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) is a national population-based measure of how young children have developed by the time they start their first year of full-time school. It is the only measure of its kind in Australia, and Australia is the only country conducting this census nationally.

The AEDC highlights what needs to be improved to support children and their families. It also helps communities know how their children are progressing.

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).

Despite the slight improvements in the 2021 collection, the proportion of our children who are developmentally vulnerable has been on the rise since 2009, as opposed to most other states where vulnerability has decreased. Developmental vulnerability in South Australia has now spread across all socioeconomic levels and geographic areas indicating further work is needed to get the balance between universal and targeted approaches right. 

View the 2021 AEDC national report

In 2019 the South Australian Child Development Council established the Outcomes Framework for Children and Young People (PDF 1.11MB) 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 Child Development Council’s report card – how are they faring specifically highlighted these AEDC trends in South Australia. Find out more about the South Australian Child Development Council on their website. 

Research into how we can support children to be developmentally on track on all 5 AEDC domains by the time they start school is important. It helps all levels of government, community and education sectors with planning, policy, service and program decisions.

Visit the researcher section of the AEDC website.

How the data is collected

Data is collected every 3 years by teachers of children in their first year of full-time school, in schools across Australia. Five sets of data are now available from 2009, 2012, 2015, 2018 and 2021. Around 300,000 children take part in each collection. This forms a robust evidence base to inform research.

The data is collected using the Australian version of the Early Development Instrument. This is made up of around 100 tested and validated questions.

Using AEDC data in research

You can use AEDC data with other resources to plan and evaluate ways to improve early childhood development outcomes.

Uses of the AEDC data include:

  • research about early childhood development
  • informing schools of ways to improve their practices
  • informing the development and evaluation of national, state and community priorities, programs and policies, through statistical analysis and publication of information about the early development of children.

If you have an AEDC story to share, please email Education.AEDCTeam [at] sa.gov.au.

The reporting, publication and analysis of AEDC data and results must follow the AEDC data guidelines.

Find out more about researcher responsibilities.

Accessing AEDC data

The AEDC results are available at a national, state, community and school level. The results can be accessed in a range of ways.

National AEDC website

Access national, state and community data via the AEDC data explorer.

There is also a section with resources for the aedc data explorer.

Explore an interactive chart showing jurisdiction AEDC data from 2009 to 2021.

Public tables for ​all collections ​are available for the following levels:

  • local government area (LGA)
  • statistical area level 2 (SA2)
  • statistical area level 3 (SA3).

You can access other data products by geographic area via the AEDC data explorer. You can also view links to ABS contextual data and the Population Health Information Development Unit (PHIDU) Social Health Atlases.

You can access data not publicly available via agreement or application.

To request other AEDC data contact the Data Management Agency via support [at] aedc.gov.au. For more information go to the AEDC contact page

Location SA

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’ on 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.

SA AEDC State Coordinator

Email: Education.AEDCTeam [at] sa.gov.au