Research priorities

Research priorities


The AEDC program holds valuable population and trend data on the development of Australian children at the time they begin full-time at school.

With four data collections since 2009 and the fifth data collection due for release in 2022, the AEDC is the most comprehensive collection of this kind in the world. It provides us with unique and important insights from local community level to national level as well as the ability for data linkage with other information sources to assess the impact of social, education, health and economic circumstances on the child. AEDC data enables schools, communities, and governments to make informed decisions that benefit children, families and society as a whole.


The AEDC National Committee, as a governance body, recognises the value in communicating the AEDC Research Priorities for the 2021-2023 period. The aim is to inform public policy and practise by creating a point of reference for the broader community, researchers and policy makers to use, and contribute to, the AEDC evidence base through published research, community action, data linkage and/or access to the data. 


The AEDC Research Priorities have the following objectives:

  • Inform policy decision-making by providing evidence-based research to all levels of government and creating a synergy between researchers and policy-makers.
  • Align research projects and allow new ideas to emerge without duplication, either within a priority area or to examine an emerging issue and/or opportunity.
  • Encouraging relevant research to build the evidence-base to inform practical action.
  • Support research that identifies how developmental outcomes (children categorised as developmentally vulnerable, at risk, and on track on the AEDC) can be improved, or inequities addressed, through policy relevant evidence-based programs and/or interventions by either a universal or targeted approach.
  • Inform planning for research to draw upon the 2021 AEDC collection when that becomes available from 2022.

Research Priority List

The AEDC National Committee determined the following top three research priorities for the 2021-2023 period: 

  1. Enhanced linkages of the AEDC with other data sets to better understand the drivers of early childhood development, in the home, in the community, and in early childhood education and care settings. This could include consideration of child and family circumstances, and children’s participation in early learning, including age of entry, dosage and service quality, as well as community supports and context. Analysis could also consider differences for various subpopulations, particularly more vulnerable children, and the effects of lockdowns and disrupted early learning in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions.
  2. Identification of the nature and influence of factors that will support Closing the Gap Target 4: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children thrive in their early years. By 2031, increase the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children assessed as developmentally on track in all five domains of the AEDC to 55 per cent.
  3. The experiences of children with disability: Developmental vulnerability of children with special needs and how data analysis of these children’s experience can inform the National Disability Strategy.

Ethics Committee approval and other sensitivities must be considered when using AEDC data as part of research projects. 

The AEDC Research Priorities will help to shape government investment in early childhood research and researchers may wish to reflect the alignment of their research proposals to these priorities when seeking grant funding through the Australian Research Council and other sources.

If your research aligns with these priorities and wish to contribute, please contact the AEDC Team ( Published work and research in progress will be made available on this website shortly.

Governance and Review

The AEDC National Committee was established to guide the national implementation of the AEDC program and to assist realisation of the potential value of the AEDC to contribute to improved early childhood outcomes. The Committee contributes to strategic thinking about the implementation, use of the findings and the future of the AEDC program.

The AEDC National Committee is responsible for managing the list of AEDC Research Priorities and reviewing the list, at a minimum, on an annual basis.


To contact the AEDC National Committee about the research priorities, please email

Further information

Relevant information can be found on the following pages:

Why the AEDC is important

Public benefit statement

How the AEDC assists policy reform

AEDC National Conference

Accessing AEDC data

Community stories

School stories