Notes on the data: 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 [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
  • Developmentally on track (above the 25th percentile) on all five domains

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 percentile) in the following areas:

  • Physical readiness for school day
  • Physical independence
  • Gross and fine motor skills

Data were downloaded from the AEDC website

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;

  • 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 Population Health Area, Local Government Area, Primary Health Network, Quintile of socioeconomic disadvantage of area and Remoteness Area


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, 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).


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