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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 4 Hansard (5 April) . .

Page.. 1066..

As the Minister for Children and Young People, I thank you for the opportunity to speak to the Assembly today about the results of the 2015 Australian early development census.

The Australian early development census is a triennial nation-wide census funded by the commonwealth government that measures the development of children in their first year of school. The 2015 census is the third national collection since 2009.

The Australian early development census results provide communities with a snapshot of how children in their local area have developed by the time they start their first year of full-time school. The results can help communities understand what is working well and what needs to be improved or further developed in their communities to better support children and their families. The results are reported at the community, state, territory and national levels and assist communities and governments to plan and assess the effectiveness of their efforts to improve early childhood outcomes.

The ACT has a strong commitment to the census, as shown in our participation rates, with 100 per cent of government, independent and Catholic schools and 99.3 per cent of kindergarten children participating in 2015. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the three education sectors for their participation and commitment to this data collection which provides us with such important information to support early childhood development.

Madam Speaker, the Australian early development census collects information on the five key areas of early childhood development, referred to as domains. These five domains are physical health and wellbeing, social competence, emotional maturity, school-based language and cognitive skills and communication skills and general knowledge.

This information is collected by kindergarten teachers, using a secure online data entry system. Kindergarten teachers are first provided with training to support the ease of use and accuracy of the data collected. Teachers use their knowledge about the children in their class to complete the instrument. Each instrument takes approximately 20 minutes to complete.

Funding for reimbursement for relief staff costs per instrument completed as well as the training time required for teaching staff is provided by the Australian government. This financial support to allow teachers to be off class to complete the instruments, and training is very much appreciated.

The Australian early development census is a proven and reliable measure of children's development, and its validity has been well tested. It provides us with a snapshot of how children are developing in their first five years of life. It assists us by providing evidence to support policy and planning and helps us to build and strengthen our families and communities.

The 2015 results showed that 22.5 per cent of children in the ACT were developmentally vulnerable on one or more domains. This result is comparable to the 2015 national result of 22 per cent. Over the previous two collection periods in

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