Australian Early Development Census (AEDC)

The Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) measures how children have developed by the time they start school. The AEDC looks at groups of children, not individuals. 

With four sets of data collected every three years since 2009, we have valuable trend data to help governments and communities design programs and policies that better meet the needs of children and families. 

More than 96% of Australian children in their first year of school contributed to the 2018 AEDC. Findings showed: 

  • The percentage of children who are developmentally vulnerable dropped slightly from 22% in 2015 to 21.7% in 2018. 

  • The gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children narrowed. The level of developmental vulnerability for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children decreased from 47% in 2009 to 41% in 2018. 

  • There were promising improvements in children’s physical health and wellbeing, social competence, communication and general knowledge. 

Teachers of children in the first year of school use the Australian version of the Early Development Instrument (AvEDI), which measures children across five areas of development. These areas are closely linked to children’s overall health, education and social outcomes as they mature into adults: 

  • physical health and wellbeing 
  • social competence 
  • emotional maturity 
  • language and cognitive skills (school based) 
  • communication skills and general knowledge. 

The Australian Government worked with state and territory governments to undertake the 2018 AEDC national collection.  

Since 2002, the Australian Government has also worked with the Telethon Kids Institute in Perth, Centre for Community Child Health and the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne to get a good national snapshot of children’s health. 

Who benefits? 

Census results are available online. The data is available to government agencies, researchers and practitioners across all disciplines.  

AEDC data reflects the environments and experiences children are exposed to from when they are born to school age. As more censuses are held, researchers, governments and communities can better track children's development and identify factors affecting children's development. 

One of the benefits of the AEDC results is how they can help communities to understand their proportion of children who are developmentally vulnerable in any of the five domains. Communities can then, for instance, engage and collaborate with local schools and early childhood providers to act to better support children and their families. 

See examples of how AEDC results used 

Go to AEDC website and check out 2018 results 

Find out more

The AEDC website is for everyone interested in learning more about how the AEDC helps shape the future and wellbeing of children in Australia.

Fact sheets on how you can use the AEDC data are also available on the AEDC website..