Socioeconomic outcome area 4

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children thrive in their early years

Print/Download

Target 4

By 2031, increase the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children assessed as developmentally on track in all five domains of the Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) to 55 per cent.

The data below are the most recent at the time of preparing the July 2022 report. Please go to the Dashboard to access the current data.

Nationally in 2021, 34.3 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children commencing school were assessed as being developmentally on track in all five AEDC domains (figure CtG4.1).

This is a decrease from 35.2 per cent in 2018 (the baseline year).

Nationally, based on progress from the baseline, the target is worsening. However, this assessment should be used with caution as it is based on a limited number of data points. Please see the How to interpret the data page for more information.Figure CtG4.1. Line chart showing the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children commencing school and non-Indigenous children commencing school who were assessed as being developmentally on track in all five Australian Early Development Census domains. Along with these proportions, a linear regression is displayed that shows the data trend for the target. The aim under Closing the Gap is to increase the proportion for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from a 2018 baseline value of 35.2 per cent to a target value of 55 per cent by 2031.

The assessment below reflects progress from the baseline (improvement, worsening or no change).
NSW Vic Qld WA SA Tas ACT NT Aust
AssessmentWorseningImprovementImprovementWorseningImprovementImprovementImprovementWorseningWorsening

right arrow improvement rectangle no change left arrow worsening not applicable as required data not available. tick good improvement and target on track to be met. circle improvement but target not on track to be met.

Note: These assessments of progress should be used with caution as they are based on a limited number of data points.

Disaggregations

By sex

Nationally in 2021, a higher proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls were assessed as being developmentally on track when commencing school (41.6 per cent) compared to boys (27.1 per cent) (figure CtG4.2). The proportions decreased by around 1 percentage point for both girls and boys since the 2018 baseline year.

Figure CtG4.2. Bar chart showing the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children assessed as developmentally on track in all five domains of the Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) in Australia, by sex and by year. Data table of figure CtG4.2 is below.
Data in figure CtG4.2 (%)
20182021
Males27.627.1
Females42.941.6

By remoteness area

Nationally in 2021, the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children assessed as being developmentally on track in all five AEDC domains was highest in major cities (38.4 per cent) (figure CtG4.3). The proportion declined with remoteness, to 16.1 per cent in very remote areas. This is a similar pattern to the 2018 baseline year.

Figure CtG4.3. Bar chart showing the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children assessed as developmentally on track in all five domains of the Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) in Australia, by remoteness area and by year. Data table of figure CtG4.3 is below.
Data in figure CtG4.3 (%)
20182021
Major cities38.538.4
Inner regional38.035.2
Outer regional35.233.7
Remote30.727.8
Very remote16.016.1

By Index of Relative Socioeconomic Disadvantage (IRSD) quintile

Nationally in 2021, the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children assessed as being developmentally on track in all five AEDC domains was highest in the least disadvantaged socioeconomic areas of Australia (46.9 per cent) (figure CtG4.4). The proportion declined for children living in more disadvantaged areas, to 28.3 per cent in the most disadvantaged socioeconomic areas of Australia. The proportions have decreased around 1-2 percentage points across all socioeconomic areas since the 2018 baseline year.

Figure CtG4.4. Bar chart showing the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children assessed as developmentally on track in all five domains of the Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) in Australia, by Index of Relative Socioeconomic Disadvantage (IRSD) quintile and by year. Data table of figure CtG4.4 is below.
Data in figure CtG4.4 (%)
20182021
Most disadvantaged29.628.3
Second most disadvantaged37.336.3
Middle 20 per cent41.439.9
Second least disadvantaged44.642.5
Least disadvantaged47.446.9

By disability status

Nationally in 2021, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children commencing school:

  • 8.5 per cent had a medically diagnosed special need, an increase from 6.4 per cent in 2018
  • 28.5 per cent had been identified by teachers as requiring further assessment to determine if they have a developmental difficulty that affects their ability to do schoolwork in a regular classroom, an increase from 24.3 per cent in 2018 (figure CtG4.5).

Figure CtG4.5. Bar chart showing the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children in their first year of schooling included in the Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) in Australia; with disability; additional or special needs, by year. Data table of figure CtG4.5 is below.
Data in figure CtG4.5 (%)
20182021
Children with special needs status6.48.5
Children needing further assessment24.328.5

Target data specifications

Target 4: Increase the proportion of children assessed as developmentally on track

Outcome:

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children thrive in their early years.

Target:

By 2031, increase the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children assessed as developmentally on track in all five domains of the Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) to 55 per cent.

Indicator:

The proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children assessed as developmentally on track in all five domains of the AEDC.

Measure

The measure is defined as:

Numerator — number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the first year of full-time schooling who scored above the cut off score for developmentally on track in all five domains of the AEDC.

Denominator — total number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the first year of full-time schooling

and is presented as a percentage.

Target established:

National Agreement on Closing the Gap July 2020

Latest dashboard update:

30 June 2022

Indicator type:

Target

Interpretation of change:

A high or increasing proportion is desirable.

Data source:

Name: AEDC microdata file.

Frequency: Three-yearly

Documentation (links): https://www.aedc.gov.au

Data provider:

Provider name: Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment

Provider area: Australian Early Development Census

Baseline year:

2018

Target reporting period

2021

Target year:

2031

Disaggregations:

State and territory and Australia, by Indigenous status

State and territory and Australia, by Indigenous status, by sex

State and territory and Australia, by Indigenous status, by remoteness area

State and territory and Australia, by Indigenous status, by Index of Relative Socioeconomic Disadvantage (IRSD) quintile.

State and territory and Australia, by Indigenous status, children with disability.

Computation:

Numerator divided by Denominator multiplied by 100

Counting rules

Children who score above the 25th percentile, determined using the cut-off points established in the first national census (2009 AEDC), are classified as ‘on track’. A set of cut-off points define on track for each of the five domains: physical health and well-being, social competence, emotional maturity, language and cognitive skills (school-based), and communication skills and general knowledge.

Geographical variables are based on the location in which the child resides.

As age is a factor contributing to children’s development, the published AEDC results control for age (excluding counts of children with disability).

Includes (disability status only)

  • numerator is number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children with special needs (all excluded from the target indicator) and number of children identified by the teacher as needing assessment
  • denominator is number of all children included in the AEDC.

Excludes (both numerator and denominator)

  • children for whom Indigenous status was not stated
  • (except disability status) children without valid scores in any of the five domains. Instruments are flagged as invalid because domain scores are not calculated for: children with special needs; children in class less than one month; children aged less than four years old; or where the teacher is unable to answer at least 75 per cent of items in any given domain.
  • (except disability status) children without the sufficient information across the five domains to determine whether they are developmentally on track in all five domains. (Sufficient information: children with valid scores in each of the five domains, or with valid scores in fewer than five domains but at least one of those is “developmentally at risk” or “developmentally vulnerable”.)

Disaggregations:

  • Sex is recorded for the child as either male or female.
  • Remoteness area is classified according to the ABS 2016 Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) (see ASGS: Volume 5 - Remoteness Structure, July 2016 (see abs.gov.au) using SA1 as the building block
  • Socioeconomic status of the locality is classified according to the ABS Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA): Index of Relative Socio-economic Disadvantage (IRSD), 2016 (see abs.gov.au) using SA1 as the building block. Data are reported by IRSD quintile that are determined at the Australian level and exclude children with unknown or unavailable SEIFA score.
  • Disability relates to:
    • Children with special needs: children those who have chronic medical, physical or intellectual disabilities that require special assistance, based on medical diagnosis. All children with special needs do not have domain scores calculated and are excluded from the ‘on track in all five domains’ measure.
    • Children identified by teachers as requiring further assessment: to determine if they have a developmental difficulty that affects their ability to do schoolwork in a regular classroom. Data exclude children with no teacher assessment or where the teacher assessment is ‘Don’t know’.

Data quality considerations:

See http://www.aedc.gov.au for further information.

The AEDC is a national population measure on how children have developed by the time they start their first year of full-time school. Information is collected through a teacher-completed instrument in children’s first year of full-time schooling.

For 2021, AEDC data were collected for 305,015 children, equating to an estimated 95.5 per cent of first year school enrolments based on ABS schools data. Of the 305,015 children with data collected for the AEDC, 20,646 children (6.8 per cent) were Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children. Based on ABS estimates, this equates to an estimated 96.2 per cent of first year school enrolments for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

Of the participating children, 5.7 per cent did not have domain scores calculated or did not have sufficient information across the five domains to determine whether they are developmentally on track in all five domains (10.3 per cent of participating Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children).

Research conducted in 2007 validated the AEDC for use for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children (AEDC Indigenous Adaption Study).

The target year is 2031, however the AEDC is currently only collected every three years. The closest year to the target year that the AEDC is projected to be collected is 2030.

Supporting indicators

Driver

  • Preschool attendance and enrolment
  • Primary carer education level

Contextual information

  • Outcomes by AEDC domains

    Developmentally vulnerable, at risk, on track

  • AEDC Multiple Strengths Indicator

    Highly developed, well developed and emerging strengths

  • Progress towards parity

Material for download

The Productivity Commission acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, waters and community. We pay our respects to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultures, Country and Elders past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website may contain images, voices or names of people who have passed away.