Notes on the data: Aboriginal early childhood development
Australian Early Development Census indicators, 2021
Policy context: The Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) is a 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 first conducted nationwide in 2009, as the Australian Early Development Index. The AEDC has been conducted nationally every three years since then (2012, 2015, 2018 and 2021), with more than 95 per cent of schools with eligible children participating in each collection.
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 (school-based), and communication skills and general knowledge. The AEDC domains have been shown to predict later health, wellbeing and academic success .
Initiated in 2007, the Indigenous Australian Early Development Index (Indigenous-AEDI) project adapted the AEDI to take into account Aboriginal cultural differences in the influences on child development . An adapted Early Development Instrument was integrated into the national Early Development Instrument in 2009 with the following modifications:
- use of Indigenous school personnel to work as cultural consultants with teachers in completing the Early Development Instrument for Indigenous children;
- inclusion of contextual information in the online teacher guide so that cultural considerations can be taken into account on certain Early Development Instrument questions;
- inclusion of additional Early Development Instrument items of relevance to understanding the particular circumstances of Indigenous children that may affect attendance and performance (cultural, sickness or other); and
- use of home language, history of otitis media or hearing difficulties.
These modifications were included for all children in the 2009 and later data collections.
The results from the AEDC provide communities and schools with information about how local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander 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 (school-based), and communication skills and general knowledge.
In 2021, 42.3 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were considered to be developmentally vulnerable on one or more domains of the AEDC. The corresponding figure for all children was 20.6 per cent .
- 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.
- Australian Early Development Census (AEDC). The AEDI and Indigenous children. [Internet]. 2015 [cited 7 June 2017]. Available from: http://www.aedc.gov.au/about-the-aedc/history/validation-and-trial-of-the-aedi/the-aedi-and-indigenous-children
- PHIDU (www.phidu.torrens.edu.au/data) based on the 2021 Australian Early Development Census
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 are presented for children identified as being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin who were:
- Developmentally vulnerable (0 to 10th percentile) on one or more domains
- Developmentally vulnerable (0 to 10th percentile) on two or more domains
- Developmentally on track (0 to 10th percentile) on five 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
and who were assessed as being developmentally vulnerable (0 to 10th Per centile) in the following areas:
- Physical readiness for school day
- Physical independence
- Gross and fine motor skills
These three latter indicators and that for ‘Developmentally on track (0 to 10th Per centile) on five domains’ were new in 2021.
Data were provided by the Social Research Centre, who host and manage the AEDC website on behalf of the Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment.
The following suppression rules have been applied to the data to preserve confidentiality:
AEDC data are not reported for locations in which three or fewer children had been assessed;
Suppression of AEDC data also occurs when one or more of the following have not been met:
- 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 have occurred where necessary to preserve confidentiality of related suppressed cells (consequential suppression).
Geography: Data available by Indigenous Area and Remoteness Area
Numerator: Aboriginal children, as listed above, in ‘Notes’
Denominator: Aboriginal children assessed in AEDC, with valid results
Detail of analysis: Per cent
Source: Compiled by PHIDU based on data from the 2021 Australian Early Development Census (an Australian Government Initiative), provided by the Social Research Centre, who host and manage the AEDC website on behalf of the Australian Government Department of Education.