The release of the third whole-of-country snapshot of Australian children’s development is significant for all Australians. More than 96% of Australian schools took part in the 2015 Australian Early Development Census, which reflects the enormous effort from all involved and the value of this triennial Census. Congratulations to all of the schools and teachers who took part, and to the Australian Government for its commitment to this valuable work.
The Centre for Community Child Health lead the first and second data collections on Australia’s children. Now, the Centre is a leader in terms of Australian Early Development Census research; recent work has examined children’s mental health outcomes and how bilingual Australian children are faring as they start primary school.
The Australian Early Development Census demonstrates the important role of quality early childhood education in amplifying children’s development. Professor Sharon Goldfeld notes ‘The AEDC results remind us that we all make a difference to the lives of Australia’s children. By focussing our early intervention and prevention efforts in the early years, we can improve outcomes for all children and in particular, work to address the increasing inequity that we know affects children from so early in life.’
The Australian Early Development Census data tells us that Australia’s children are continuing to improve their vital language, cognitive and communication skills. And, importantly, that the gap between Australia’s Indigenous and non-Indigenous children is decreasing in the five important developmental domains that are measured by the Census.
Worryingly, the inequities between Australia’s advantaged and disadvantaged communities appear to be increasing. Quality early childhood education for all Australian children provides an opportunity for us to amplify developmental outcomes, offering an opportunity to lay the foundation for a strong, equitable and prosperous future for Australia.
Data from the Australian Early Development Census informs a number of major projects at the Centre for Community Child Health. These results will bolster our community-based efforts in Opportunity Child and Collaborate for Children, as well as the Kids in Communities study.
Addressing inequity is a focus of our work in the right@home project and Changing Children’s Chances. These initiatives focus on the social competence of families and on parent’s and children’s mental health to achieve a more equitable Australia, where all children and families have the opportunity to achieve their full potential.
The things that will make the greatest difference to the future of this country are a strong, universal base of services and support for all Australians, which will mean enhancing support for those children and families who are experiencing vulnerability and providing a better integrated service system that provides all families with the services that they need.
Read ABC online news article: ‘Australian Early Development Census: One in five children ‘vulnerable’ when they start school‘, 7 March 2016