Initiated in 2007, the Indigenous Australian Early Development Index (Indigenous-AEDI) project adapted the AEDI to take into account Aboriginal cultural differences in the influences on child development. The Indigenous Adaptation Study is an important step in ensuring not only the cultural accuracy of the AEDI, but also its effectiveness in empowering communities to enhance the development of all children in their critical early years.
The study was overseen by a National Indigenous AEDI Reference Group with input from Indigenous peak bodies and grass roots community organisations, parents, unions and government and non-government stakeholders throughout the project.
The first phase was completed in 2008 and third and final phases were completed in 2009. The adapted version of the AEDI was piloted in 2008 with Indigenous children from 49 schools in three sites around Western Australia- Armadale, Murchison Gascoyne and the Pilbara. In 2009 the study focused on communicating and disseminating the results in trial sites identifying and using local, culturally relevant and meaningful resources and processes. The study was extended to the Northern Territory.
Based on the findings of the study an adapted Early Development Instrument was integrated into national Early Development Instrument in 2009 with the following modifications:
- Use of Indigenous school personnel to work as cultural consultants with teachers in completing the Early Development Instrument for Indigenous children.
- Inclusion of contextual information in the on-line teacher guide so that cultural considerations can be taken into account on certain Early Development Instrument questions.
- Inclusion of additional Early Development Instrument items of relevance to understanding the particular circumstances of Indigenous children that may affect attendance and performance (cultural, sickness or other); use of home language, history of otitis media or hearing difficulties.
These modifications were included for all children in the 2009 and 2012 data collections.