Media Release by The Hon Larry Anthony MP

New tool to monitor Australian children’s development

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Larry Anthony, today announced Australian Government funding of $900,000 for four years for the development of an Early Development Instrument and his support for its use throughout Australian communities.

“The Early Development Instrument (EDI) is a short questionnaire administered by teachers in the first year of school. The tool was originally developed in Canada for communities to measure how their children have fared in the years prior to school.

“The Centre for Community Child Health, headed by Professor Frank Oberklaid, and the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, headed by Professor Fiona Stanley, will be funded to refine the EDI for use in Australia, building on the work recently completed in Western Australia that trialled the use of the EDI in an Australian setting.

“This new tool includes measures of health, social skills, literacy and maths, general knowledge, memory, behaviour and physical skills. The EDI is not used to assess individual children, but rather to gauge how all children in a particular location or at a particular school are doing. It helps to highlight gaps that might exist in the social support for families in that area.

“The EDI is used in conjunction with community mapping to reveal:

  • critical differences in child development,
  • where children are at risk, in terms of school readiness,
  • communities with significant differences in numbers of children who are healthy and ready for school,
  • gaps in children’s development within particular communities,
  • identify where change is needed,
  • levels of vulnerability within and between geographic areas, and,
  • what areas within localities have the greatest need for increased investment, programs and services.

“The EDI will provide data for governments at all levels and local communities to help them plan ahead and develop ways to enhance their children’s capacity to be successful once they reach school. It will also help them to review the services targetted at children and families.

“This funding demonstrates the Australian Government’s commitment to early childhood development. We are taking meaningful steps to work with governments, communities and parents to improve children’s chances in life,” Mr Anthony said.