Australian Early Development Index 2012 Data Collection

Results are publicly available for around 96 per cent of Australian communities. Copies of the national report, online community maps and community profiles can be found on the AEDI website.

The Australian Early Development Index 2012 Summary report is now available.

The Australian Government Department of Education and states and territory governments are working in partnership with the Centre for Community Child Health at the Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne, the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, and the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, Perth, to deliver the AEDI. The Social Research Centre, Melbourne is managed the 2012 data collection.

Why is the AEDI so important?

The 2009 implementation has already yielded a wealth of information which is being used to influence early childhood initiatives at the community, state and national levels, as well as increase the evidence base for early childhood policy. Future cycles of the AEDI will enable us to build on that momentum and enhance the AEDI’s capacity to contribute to better early childhood outcomes for Australian children.

We will now have access to data that remains relevant over time. Ongoing data collection will enable us to monitor our progress and evaluate current programmes. The partnerships that have already developed, across education, health and community services, can continue to grow and build on the work already commenced.

What Does this Initiative Cover?

AEDI data collections take place every three years, with an ongoing funding commitment of approximately $28 million each collection cycle.

This initiative includes funding for AEDI coordination and targeted community engagement activities in each state and territory. The aim is to support communities, schools, teachers and government agencies to participate in the AEDI data collection and engage with the results. This investment also includes funding to reimburse teachers for completing the checklist and undertaking professional development, and funding to undertake AEDI focused research.

Who will benefit?

A range of early childhood stakeholders will benefit from future cycles, including:

  • Communities will gain detailed contextual and developmental information about their children to help them understand what is working well and where there are areas for improvement;
  • Schools will have information on the developmental vulnerability of children as they enter school, to use in their early years planning;
  • Families will see how children in their community are developing prior to reaching school and gain an understanding of the importance of the early years as a time for building lifelong emotional and learning capability;
  • Researchers will gain access to detailed early years development data to enhance the early years evidence base; and
  • Governments, at all levels, will gain access to comparable information over time to inform policy development and programme management.

What are the key results from the 2012 implementation of the AEDI?

In the 2012 data collection, information was collected on 289 973 children from all over Australia in their first year of full-time schooling across the five AEDI domains: physical health and wellbeing, social competence, emotional maturity, language and cognitive skills, and communication skills and general knowledge.

The 2012 AEDI results were released in April 2013, and alongside the 2009 results, will, enable around 96 per cent of Australian communities important information on the development of the children in their community. With the ongoing collection of the AEDI data, Australia now has a comprehensive national picture of how children are developing by the time they start school.

For the first time we now know that 22 per cent of Australian children start school developmentally vulnerable on at least one of these domains, and just over 10 per cent on two or more. For indigenous children and children living in lower socio-economic communities the rates are substantially higher. We also know that these numbers vary significantly across states and territories and even more so across communities. These data reaffirm the need and opportunity to make a difference before children start school.

How are the AEDI results reported?

While the AEDI is completed by teachers, results are reported for the communities where children live, not where they go to school. The results show proportions of children ‘on track’, ‘developmentally at risk’ and ‘developmentally vulnerable’ on five key areas of early childhood development. The AEDI results allow communities to see how local children have developed in comparison to other children in the community, and in other communities across Australia.

The AEDI results are provided through a National Report, community maps and community profiles. These are available through the AEDI website. Data is also available to approved researchers via the AEDI website.

How is the AEDI data being used?

Since the AEDI results first became available in December 2009, Governments (at all levels) and community organisations have been using the data to inform early childhood development policy and practice. The partnerships that have developed, right across education, health and community services, highlight AEDI’s potential to help improve the wellbeing of young children in a way that we haven’t been able to do before.

The department is examining the results to better understand the needs of young children across Australia and assist in determining what changes need to take place so we can give kids the start to life they deserve. State and territory governments are also working collaboratively with local government agencies, services and welfare groups to engage communities, help them understand what’s working well and what needs to be improved or developed in their community to better support children and their families.

By providing a common ground on which people can work together, the AEDI results can help build and strengthen communities to give children the best start in life. Together with other socio-demographic and community information, the AEDI results are a powerful tool for influencing planning and policy around early childhood development. The AEDI can

  • Provide a common language for the community to discuss the needs of young children;
  • Provide communities with a tool to help understand what seems to be working well and what may need to change in their community to support families;
  • Strengthen links between schools, kindergartens, preschools, playgroups, local government agencies, health centres, libraries and other local organisations and encourage them to explore new ways of working together;
  • Provide schools with the opportunity to reflect on the development of children entering school and to work with other early childhood services to optimise school transitions;
  • Inform early childhood policy development and practice across education, health and community services; and
  • Raise awareness about the importance of the early years.

More Information

The AEDI website provides comprehensive information on the AEDI.