Notes on the data: Early Childhood Development

Australian Early Development Census indicators, 2015


Policy context:   The Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) is a full-population census measuring the development of children in Australia in their first year of full-time school. It provides a picture of early childhood development outcomes for Australia and was conducted nationwide in 2009, 2012 and 2015 [1]. In the 2015 data collection, information was collected on 302,003 Australian children (98.1% of the estimated population) in their first year of full-time school [1]. In addition, small numbers of children were combined so that more communities could have their results released.

The results from the AEDC provide communities, schools, government and non-government agencies and policy makers with information about how local children have developed by the time they start school across five areas of early childhood development: physical health and wellbeing, social competence, emotional maturity, language and cognitive skills (schools-based), and communication skills and general knowledge. The AEDC domains have been shown to predict later health, wellbeing and academic success [1].


  1. Australian Early Development Census (AEDC). Australian Early Development Census national report 2015 (A snapshot of early childhood development in Australia). Canberra: Department of Education and Training; 2016.

Notes: The AEDC results report on the number of children scoring in the following percentile ranges: 0 to 10th percentile (developmentally vulnerable), 11th to 25th percentile (developmentally at risk) and above the 25th percentile (developmentally on track).

The PHIDU data is presented for children who were:

  • Developmentally vulnerable (0 to 10th percentile) on one or more domains
  • Developmentally vulnerable (0 to 10th percentile) on two or more domains

and who were assessed as being developmentally vulnerable (0 to 10th percentile), at risk (11th to 25th percentile), and on track (above the 25th percentile) in the following domains:

  • Physical health and wellbeing domain
  • Social competence domain
  • Emotional maturity domain
  • Language and cognitive skills (school-based) domain
  • Communication skills and general knowledge domain

Data were extracted from the AEDC website at the SA2 and LGA level. This method of data collection introduced a potential for error in the data through the employment of a concordance transforming the data from ‘AEDC communities’ back into their component SA2s ahead of concordance to larger geographic areas. Furthermore, some data had been suppressed according to the confidentiality rules detailed below. Numbers for within-state/territory geographical areas will not add up to state/territory totals in many cases and vulnerable and at risk children are liable to be under-reported in areas with small populations.

Data are not shown for areas where one or more of the following have been met:

  • three or fewer children had been assessed;
  • less than fifteen children had valid AEDC scores;
  • less than two teachers had completed the AEDC instrument for children in that location;
  • the AEDC instrument was completed for less than 80% of all non special needs children; or
  • the number of vulnerable or at risk children represented at least 90% of valid AEDC scores.

Additional minor suppressions not further specified have occurred where necessary to preserve confidentiality of related suppressed cells.


Geography: Data available by Population Health Area, Local Government Area, Primary Health Network, Quintiles and Remoteness Areas

Numerator:   Children who were developmentally vulnerable on one or more/ two or more domains; and children in each domain who were assessed as being developmentally vulnerable, developmentally at risk or developmentally on track


Denominator:   Children assessed in AEDC (first year of school)


Detail of analysis:   Per cent


Source:  Compiled by PHIDU based on data from the 2015 Australian Early Development Census (an Australian Government Initiative).


© PHIDU This content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Australia licence.