Access to early childhood education is a key indicator in the Government’s Closing the Gap initiative, acknowledging the importance of early childhood development.
The gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous children is narrowing. We can see this from the significant decrease over time in the percentage of Indigenous children vulnerable on one or more domains, which has fallen from 47 per cent in 2009 to 42 per cent in 2015.
The number of Indigenous children included in the AEDC has also increased, meaning more informative data. More than 17,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were included in the 2015 AEDC. This was an increase from 15,000 in 2012, and 12,000 in 2009.
Overall, while Indigenous children are twice as likely to be developmentally vulnerable than
non-Indigenous children, it is encouraging to see that this gap has reduced over time.
The Early Development Instrument, used to collect the data, was adapted for the 2009 Census to ensure that is culturally inclusive and appropriate for use with Indigenous children.
Results from the AEDC are being successfully used to inform the development of early learning programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. AEDC results have highlighted that Aboriginal children were twice as likely to be developmentally vulnerable than non-Aboriginal children in Western Australia. In recognition of the need to do more to improve early development outcomes of young Aboriginal children the Government of Western Australia commenced the pilot of the KindiLink program in 2016. The program provides schools the opportunity to collaborate with Aboriginal parents, families and the wider community in a culturally sensitive way, to improve early learning outcomes.