Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Investing In The Early Development Needs Of Our Indigenous Children

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon. Julia Gillard MP, Minister for Education, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Minister for Social Inclusion, Deputy Prime Minister

The Minister for Education, Julia Gillard and the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin today joined Professor Fiona Stanley to launch an innovative project that will help understand the development of Indigenous children by the time they start school.

The Indigenous Australian Early Development Index (I-AEDI) will establish a culturally appropriate and nationally consistent means of assessing key aspects of Indigenous children’s early child development which are central to their readiness for learning at school.

As part of the Rudd Government’s comprehensive policy for early childhood, including universal access to early learning for 4 year olds, and supporting children into school life, we have committed $15.9 million over four years to roll out the AEDI in every Australian primary school.

The I-AEDI, is a crucial component of this project, as our priority is to give Indigenous children an equal start in life. It will bring together schools, local agencies and early childhood professionals so they can work together to improve outcomes for Indigenous children in their community.

The I-AEDI will be adapted from the Australian Early Development Index (AEDI) which is a community based population measure of young children’s development in physical health and wellbeing, social competence, emotional maturity, language, cognitive and communication skills and general knowledge based on a teacher-completed checklist of over 100 questions.

International evidence for investing in the early years in all aspects of a child’s development, health, education, family and community support is now overwhelming. It is particularly compelling for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The I-AEDI study is part of the national AEDI program managed by the Centre by Community Child Health, from Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital, in partnership with Professor Stanley’s Telethon Institute for Child Health Research.

The I-AEDI project developed by the Kulunga Research Network, the Telethon Institute’s Indigenous research arm, and the Centre for Developmental Health at Curtin University, receives funding from the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations and Shell Australia.