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AEDC 2018 state by state (a simple guide)

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The Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) reports every three years on how Australian children have developed by the time they start school. It looks at five areas of early childhood development domains: physical health and wellbeing, social competence, emotional maturity, language and cognitive skills, and communication skills and general knowledge.

The 2018 report is out now, and with the ability to view data down to a local community level, it offers all educators a valuable source of intelligence to build into your Quality Improvement Planning, your educational program assessment, and your professional development goals.

What does it say?

The results of the 2018 census show children in all states and territories are still experiencing unacceptably high levels of vulnerability. The outcome, says Michele Carnegie, CELA CEO, is further evidence that funding for early childhood education needs to be seen as an integral part of the much larger education budgets at state, territory and national levels.

Michele Carnegie
Michele Carnegie

“The 2018 report shows some heartening progress for children in some parts of Australia, and in some domains – but in other areas and domains the outcomes remain deeply troubling,” she said.

“How can we tolerate a national outcome where only 3 out of 4 children are ‘on track’ in the Social Domain, and around the same number meet the outcomes in the Emotional Domain?

“It is not tolerable because we know that two years of fully funded participation in a quality preschool program, with well-qualified educators, will boost children across every one of the AEDC domains.”

Early learning, everyone benefits

Early Childhood Australia (ECA) CEO Sam Page, issued a statement on behalf of the Early Learning, Everyone Benefits (ELEB) campaign, supported by a collection of 27 sector organisations including CELA.

“More action is needed and the top priority must be for Federal and State and Territory governments to work together to ensure all Australian children get two years of preschool education and a review of the Childcare Subsidy System to ensure that every child can access a guaranteed two days of quality play-based early learning,” Sam said.

“While the full data set shows glimmers of hope in some areas, we must work harder to reduce vulnerability and give all Australian children the best possible start to their education, regardless of where they live or their family’s financial resources.

“It’s encouraging that there is some improvement in the most vulnerable groups—children from low socioeconomic status areas, children in households with the first language other than English, and First Nations children. But on far too many indicators, progress has been minimal or has slipped backwards.

“With trends varying between the states and territories, it is clear that a concerted national effort is needed to deliver a really significant improvement in results by the next two census periods (2021 and 2024).”

Round up

The ELEB statement says it is worth noting that Australia introduced a National Quality Framework (NQF) and National Quality Standard for all early childhood education providers in 2012. Implementation is still ongoing and has varied significantly between states and territories.

Sam says the ELEB campaign anticipates the quality measures in the NQF will bring dividends for all Australian children, but the benefits may not show up until the 2024 census.

You can download the solutions proposed in the ELEB campaign briefing here.

State and territory summaries

You can get more detail from the AEDC Data Explorer, down to local community level.  Here are the summaries for 2018 in each Australian jurisdiction, alphabetically.

Australian comparisonnational AEDC

AEDC national graph legend
AEDC national graph legend (applies to above graph only)

Australian Capital Territory compared with national data


New South Wales compared with national data


Northern Territory compared with national data


Queensland compared with national data


South Australia compared with national data


Tasmania compared with national data


Victoria compared with national data


Western Australia compared with national data




Bec Lloyd is the founder and managing director of Bec & Call Communication, providing professional writing, editing and strategy services to the school and early childhood education sector since 2014. In 2018 she launched UnYucky mindset and menus for happier family mealtimes. Formerly the communications lead at ACECQA and BOS (now NESA), Bec is a journo and mother of three who produces Amplify for us at Community Early Learning Australia.

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