Data Focus: Australian Early Development Census

AURIN has just released the 2018 Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) for use by academic and government researchers through the AURIN Portal.  The AEDC provides a national measurement to monitor Australian children’s development. Over 96% of Australia’s children were assessed in the 2018 census, which occurs every three years. The AEDC provides evidence to support policy, planning and action for health, education and community support. The AEDC can assist governments to develop flexible approaches to policy and planning that address the evolving needs of children and families in the future.

With four sets of AEDC national data collected in 2009, 2012, 2015 and 2018, we now have an indication of the national progress towards improving the development of Australian children. With each successive wave of data collected, the AEDC will provide a more comprehensive understanding of the state and progress of early childhood development in Australia.

The AEDC assesses children across multiple dimensions of their wellbeing, including social, physical and mental health attributes. These attributes include:  the percentage of children who are vulnerable on one or more domains, or two or more domains; social competence; language and cognitive skills; three health subdomains (ability to get ready for school, physical independence, gross and fine motor skills); emotional maturity; physical health and wellbeing, and communication skills and general knowledge. As the environments of children improve, it is anticipated the AEDC data will demonstrate a higher proportion of children who are ‘developmentally on track’ and fewer children who are classified as ‘developmentally at risk’ or ‘developmentally vulnerable’.

Importantly, these attributes (both the number and percentage of children in each of the attributes) is aggregated at multiple spatial scales (SA2*, SA3, LGA), so that their spatial patterns of risk and vulnerability can be mapped and related to other datasets talking a common language of Geography. This highlights one of the key strengths of the AURIN workbench – the ability of the researcher to investigate an aspect of Australia’s populations within the context of a range of other potentially related domains – such as the potential relationship between the percentage of developmentally vulnerable children, and the family violence rate, as shown below for Victoria’s LGAs.

The AEDC represents one of many datasets that AURIN has ingested related to the health, education and wellbeing of Australia’s young people. Other datasets in this theme include the National Register Education Services in Australia, provided to AURIN by ACECQA, NATSEM’s Indicators of Child Wellbeing, the Victorian Child and Adolescent Monitoring System (VCAMS) data, and the Population Health Information Development Unit

Recognising the influences that can impact on children’s development can provide communities with the opportunity to consider what is working well and what needs to be improved or developed to better support children and their families. By providing a common ground on which people can work together, the AEDC results can enable communities to form partnerships to plan and implement activities, programs and services to help shape the future and wellbeing of children in Australia. AURIN will continue to play its part by scouting, cleaning, harmonising and integrating as many authoritative datasets in this space, to allow users to more comprehensively understand the state of wellbeing for Australia’s young people.

Find out more about the AEDC here