Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Road map for our children’s future

Most Australian children are developing well by the time they start school, according to results launched today from the Australian Early Development Index (AEDI).

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson said the results showed that over 65 per cent of children surveyed were performing well in one or more of the AEDI areas.

“The AEDI measures children on five developmental areas; physical health and wellbeing, social competence, emotional maturity, language and cognitive skills, and communication skills and general knowledge and enables communities to understand how children in their area are developing by the time they reach school age.

“Over 16,700 children under the age of six, from 25 communities around Australia have been involved in the project.

“This information will help communities to allocate their resources in a more targeted way to support the development of young children and their families and I am keen to see the results stimulate discussions between families, services and schools.

“The results will allow us, with communities and services providers, to look at strengths and weaknesses in different parts of the community, identify best practice, and also consider what are the essential components of a child friendly community.

“This report reflects the combined efforts of many organisations, including, the Centre for Community Child Health, the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research and Shell Australia, not to mention the hundreds of health services, schools, non-government organisations and local governments.

“The Howard Government is continuing to fund the project in 2006 and like other research funded under the National Agenda for Early Childhood, such as the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children it provides vital information about the early years of children’s lives,” Senator Patterson said.

Communities wanting to implement AEDI in 2006 should contact the Centre for Community Child Health or visit: Centre for Community Child Health website before 16 December 2005.