The Department of Education and Training is committed to the protection of privacy and must comply with the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) contained in the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) (Privacy Act) when handling any personal information and sensitive information.
The Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) is an Australian Government initiative managed by the Department of Education and Training in partnership with state and territory governments, The Royal Children’s Hospital Centre for Community Child Health in Melbourne, the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, and the Telethon Kids Institute, Perth.
State and territory governments and non-government school systems involved in the collection of personal information for the AEDC are also committed to the protection of privacy and must comply with applicable privacy legislation and policies in their respective jurisdictions.
The Department of Education and Training engages a number of contracted service providers to assist with the collection and management of AEDC data and data linkage. These service providers are contractually required to comply with the APPs as if they were an APP agency under the Privacy Act.
At all stages of the AEDC data collection and reporting processes, the privacy of individuals is protected in accordance with the APPs and, where applicable, relevant state and territory privacy legislation and policies.
What information is collected about my child?
If your child is included in the AEDC, your child’s teacher will complete a questionnaire about your child. The questionnaire is called the Australian version of the Early Development Instrument and includes approximately 100 questions across five areas (called domains) of child development:
- physical health and wellbeing
- social competence
- emotional maturity
- language and cognitive skills (school-based)
- communication skills and general knowledge.
This information is recorded along with your child’s name, date of birth and school. Your child will not be individually identified in any report. For the reason this information is collected, please see the section titled ‘What purpose is my child’s information used for?’.
What purpose is my child’s information used for?
The AEDC is used for policy and planning, data analysis and statistical and research purposes. Data are reported at the national, state and territory, community and local community level to help create a snapshot of early childhood development. You can see how AEDC data is published by visiting the AEDC website www.aedc.gov.au.
Once the AEDC data collection is completed, information about children participating in the AEDC is separated into two datasets:
An ‘identified dataset’ which has information that can be used to identify an individual, such as children’s name, age, address and school attended
A ‘de-identified dataset’ which has all the remaining information collected in the AEDC.
The de-identified dataset is used to produce the AEDC results and for other research purposes. The identified dataset is used for data linkage purposes.
AEDC data is linked with information from other organisations to improve programs and policies for young children. Data combined in this way may be grouped and released in the form of reports, maps or tables of information. Selected identifying personal information may be disclosed under strict conditions by, or on behalf of, the Department of Education and Training for data linkage or research purposes. The release and use of AEDC data for linkage purposes is carried out in accordance with the Commonwealth Arrangements for Data Integration projects Involving Commonwealth Data for Statistical and Research Purposes. More information can be found on the National Statistical Service here.
AEDC data may be linked to:
Australian Government datasets including but not limited to the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) results, the Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children (LSIC) results.
State and territory government datasets including English as a second language (ESL) studies, Births, Deaths and Marriages registries, immunisation studies records, health records (for example child health records, dental, perinatal, hospital morbidity, mental health, register of developmental anomalies, parenting programs, family home visit records), education records (such as enrolment records, attendance and suspension records), public housing records, client community service, offenders registers.
Records that both the Australian Government and state and territory governments have responsibility for such as the National Assessment Programme – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) results.
Identified data may be retained for up to 10 years (or a longer period as necessary) from the date of collection for the purpose of data linkage longitudinal studies. If the identified data is no longer required for these purposes it will be destroyed.
Research Project and Studies
Data may also be used by researchers to undertake research and study into early childhood learning and development.
The release and use of data is in accordance with the AEDC Data Protocol and for data linkage purposes and users must abide by the AEDC Data Linkage Policy and align with policies on statistical data integration involving Commonwealth data (refer to the National Statistical Service website www.nss.gov.au for more information). Release of AEDC data, in any form, must ensure that the confidentiality of personal information is preserved and use of that information complies with the APPs.
Further information about the policies and agreements governing the disclosure and use of AEDC data is available from www.aedc.gov.au or contact the Helpdesk.
Does my child have to participate?
No. Your child’s participation in the AEDC is voluntary. If you do not want your child to participate in the AEDC, please notify your child’s school immediately. Please note that if you do not notify your child’s school, it is inferred that you consent to their participation and their information will be collected in accordance with the APPs.
There are no consequences for children if they do not participate in the AEDC. However, if your child’s information is not collected, the quality of the AEDC data will be affected. It is important that as many children as possible participate in the AEDC to ensure that robust and nationally consistent data are produced to help shape the design and application of early childhood programs and policies.
Who is my child’s data disclosed to?
Social Research Centre Pty Ltd
Once your child’s information is collected by their teacher using the Australian version of the Early Development Instrument, it is disclosed to the Social Research Centre Pty Ltd (SRC). SRC is the Department of Education and Training’s contracted service provider which manages the collection and storage of the AEDC data.
Department of Social Services and Department of Health
AEDC de-identified data is provided to the Australian Government Department of Social Services and Department of Health to contribute to their policy and program development.
State and Territory Governments
AEDC de-identified data is disclosed to state and territory governments to inform their own research and policy on early childhood development, improve the allocation of government funding and produce information on the early development of children in Australia in those jurisdictions. While the de-identified data excludes children’s names and identifying information, it includes the school name of government schools and identifies other schools only as ‘non-government’.
Government and non-government school systems
Under the funding arrangements for collection of the AEDC data, each state and territory agrees to coordinate the AEDC data collection in government and non-government schools. De-identified data is returned to the state and territory government and non-government school systems on the basis of ‘return to source’ and may be used for early childhood policy and program development and research, as outlined in the School System Data Release Policy.
AEDC de-identified data is made available to McMaster University (McMaster), Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, which developed the Early Development Instrument (EDI). McMaster uses the de-identified data to provide support services for the use of the EDI, for technical calculations, and the EDI Teacher Guide, which are licensed by McMaster to the Department of Education and Training.
AEDC de-identified data is disclosed to researchers in organistions including (without limitation) universities; social research institutions; health, education and community policy and planning bodies; government agencies; charities (i.e., not-for-profit organisations) and appropriate commercial entities. De-identified data is disclosed to researchers in accordance with the Microdata Release Policy and the Macrodata Release Policy.
Data Linkage Units
The Department of Education and Training has engaged a number of data linkage units to link data for research purposes. These facilities have been deemed to meet the minimum requirements for having capacity to undertake linkage and the procedures, protocols and infrastructure to maintain the privacy of AEDC data. These facilities are provided with AEDC identified data (i.e. personal information) to link AEDC data in accordance with the AEDC Data Linkage Policy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will parents/carers get individual results for their child?
The AEDC is not like the National Assessment Programme in Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) where individual reports are provided to parents/carers. For the AEDC, your child’s data will be combined with data from the other children living within the same community. AEDC results for individual children are not reported and the AEDC is not used as an individual diagnostic tool. This means that an individual child report is not produced.
For further information about accessing your child’s information please refer to the Department of Education and Training’s Guide to Accessing and Correcting Your Personal Information.
Can I have my child’s information removed from the collection database?
Yes. It is open to you to withdraw consent for your child’s participation in the AEDC at any point in time. If you withdraw your consent your child’s information will be removed from the collection database. You can do this by contacting your child’s school. However, if you withdraw your consent after the data is reported, for example in the national report, your child’s information cannot be removed from these reports. Notwithstanding this, your child will not be individually identified in the reports.
Does my child have to be present when the teacher uses the Australian version of the Early Development Instrument?
No. Teachers complete the Australian version of the Early Development Instrument for children in their first year of full-time school using a simple and secure data collection system. The AEDC questions are completed based on teachers’ knowledge and observations of the children in their class. It is not a test and children are not required to be present while teachers complete the questions.
Is my child’s information held securely?
Yes. The Department of Education and Training is the custodian of the AEDC data and implements data collection techniques, storage and reporting technologies that ensure the reliability and security of the AEDC data. Security rules (protocols) agreed between the Department of Education and Training and all contracted service providers require protection against unauthorised access and accidental destruction and modification of AEDC data.
Who do I contact if I have more questions about the privacy of my child’s information or if I would like to make a complaint?
All enquiries and complaints about the privacy of AEDC information should be directed to the Department of Education and Training in writing to firstname.lastname@example.org. There is also a range of information on the AEDC initiative available from the AEDC website www.aedc.gov.au.