Australian Early Development Census (AEDC)

​​Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) data provides a snapshot of children’s development at the time they start school. The publicly available population level data can be used by government and communities to support the planning and delivery of early years services.

The AEDC is crucial to our planning for children prior to school entry. It is a known predictor of children's educational outcomes, including NAPLAN, and of children's emotional wellbeing. The AEDC results demonstrate how well our five-year-olds are progressing and reflect actions that have been successful in supporting children's development.

The fourth national AEDC data collection is now taking place and will run from 1 May to 3 August 2018  

It is critical that all schools in Victoria who have children in their foundation year of school participate in the census to ensure that Victoria has the most comprehensive and robust information on how our children are faring.  

The Australian Government will launch the fourth wave of AEDC results in March 2019

More about the Australian Early Development Census (AEDC)

The Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) is a population measure of how young children are developing across Australia as they begin school.

The AEDC measures children’s development across five developmental domains known to be good predictors of adult health, education and social outcomes:

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

The AEDC instrument is completed by school teachers in children’s first year of school.

The AEDC gathers information on each child and reports back on how groups of children are faring; for example, at a community or state level. The AEDC does not provide an individual assessment on a child’s development.

AEDC results are reported as proportions of children who are considered to be:

  • developmentally on track’
  • ‘developmentally at risk’
  • developmentally vulnerable’

For further information, see: Definition of AEDC Terms

For background information on the collection, see: The 2015 AEDC Data​ Collection FAQs or AEDC Background 

Results from AEDC 2015

In 2015 the third national AEDC took place with data collected on 71,786 Victorian children. We thank schools across Victoria for their participation.

The results, in the form of the AEDC National Report and AEDC community profiles, can be accessed on the AEDC 2015 Results Website.

Key findings from AEDC 2015

The majority of Victorian children are developmentally on track.

19.9% of Victorian children are developmentally vulnerable on one or more domains – which is the lowest proportion of children of any state or territory. It is a slight increase in vulnerability from 2012 (19.5%) but remains an improvement from 2009 results (20.3%).  

9.9% of children are vulnerable on two or more domains (9.5% in 2012 and 10% in 2009).

The percentage of children vulnerable on the communication skills and general knowledge domain has decreased steadily over time in Victoria.

While there has been an increase in the number of Victorian children on track in the language and cognitive skills domain, vulnerability has also slightly increased on this domain - further work is needed to determine why this may be so.

The percentage of children vulnerable on the physical health and wellbeing domain and social competence domain has increased very marginally in Victoria and nationally. The physical health and wellbeing domain includes information about children arriving to school hungry, whether they are poorly dressed, personal hygiene, gross and fine motor skills and general coordination (i.e. it is not a measure of child obesity).

Vulnerability on the emotional maturity domain has marginally increased consistent with a national trend.

Linking data sets with the AEDC: Mapping your community results

Visualising the evidence

Maps are a powerful way to understand the AEDC results. The ‘Visualising the Evidence’ mapping series is a free tool that allows you to choose data you would like to see for your community.

For mapped data on your community, see:

Visualising the Evidence 2016​

Visualising the Evidence 2012

Visualising the Evidence 2009

Change over time

2018 will collect the fourth wave of AEDC data.  Data has been collected 2009, 2012, and 2015 and offers the opportunity to measure children's outcome over time. To visualise how your community AEDC results have changed from 2009 to 2015 on the measure of 'developmentally vulnerable on 1 or more domain', see here: AEDC Change over time maps: Developmentally vulnerable on 1 or more domain​ (pptx - 13 (pptx - 13.67mb)

For other data resources, see: Using the AEDC: Research, Resources and Data Sources

Using the AEDC: Turning data into action

Much of the Victorian success has been a consequence of engaging with local champions. The Local Champions project in 2009 investigated what is needed to enable communities to turn AEDC data into action. For more information, see: The Victorian Local Champions Project

A number of local status reports modelled on The State of Victoria’s Children reports have been published since the first release of the AEDC data. These reports build on foundation of AEDC results for their local communities. Bendigo, East Gippsland, Wyndham, Whittlesea, Shepparton and Great Southern communities were early adopters. For more information see: Using the AEDC: community case studies and State of Children’s Wellbeing reports

There are many resources to help you use data; see: Using the AEDC: Research, Resources and Data Sources and Useful Links

AEDC case studies: Improvement in vulnerable communities

There has been significant improvement across all AEDC domains in some vulnerable Victorian communities. Case studies detailing the way in which three of these communities have responded to need are now available. See: Community stories for Frankston North, Warrnambool and Doveton (docx - 89 (docx - 92.91kb).

Although there is a strong correlation between socio-economic status and vulnerability and the highest proportions of vulnerable children are most likely to be found in low SES areas, the AEDC shows the highest number of vulnerable children sit in the middle band of Socio-economic Indexes For Areas (SEIFA) quintiles.

The AEDC affords us the opportunity to examine what is impacting on the development of children over time. With increased understanding of how policies and practices impact child development, this data will assist us in identifying necessary reforms to improve outcomes for children.

AEDC updates and conferences

The Horizon Forum 'Advancing Social and Emotional Learning in School' was held in Melbourne in 2017.

The National AEDC Conference 'Linking data to action in Schools, Communities and Governments across Australia' was held in Adelaide in 2015.

The AEDC Symposium 'From Knowledge to Action' was held in Melbourne in 2014.

To access presentations from these events, see: AEDC Updates and Conferences Advancing the Science and Practices of Social and Emotional Learning in Schools (docx - 37kb)​