4240.0 - Preschool Education, Australia, 2018 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 13/02/2019   
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This publication contains statistics on children enrolled and attending preschool programs across Australia in 2018. The statistics were compiled from data collected through the National Early Childhood Education and Care Collection (the Collection). The Collection includes data about service providers and children. Data on workers were included in some previous cycles of the Collection and were sought for 2018 but were sometimes incomplete or not yet available. Accordingly, statistics on workers have not been included in this publication.


For the purposes of the Collection, a preschool program is defined as a structured, play based learning program, delivered by a degree qualified teacher, aimed primarily at children in the year or two before they commence full-time schooling. This is irrespective of the type of institution that provides it or whether it is government funded or privately provided. Preschool programs are often referred to by other terms such as early childhood education, early learning or kindergarten.

A preschool program can be delivered in a variety of settings such as stand-alone preschools, preschools co-located as part of a school (both government and non-government), and Centre based day care (CBDC) service (formerly Long Day Care). A child may attend both a preschool and a separate or adjoined child care facility, such as family day care, outside school hours care, vacation care, in-home care and occasional care services. Participation in preschool is not compulsory and is influenced by parental preference and other factors, such as school starting age in the particular jurisdiction.
Preschool programs are referred to by a variety of other terms across state and territories. Age entry requirements also differ across states and territories. These differences are summarised in the following table:


JurisdictionPreschool programTransition to primary school
Foundation year (Year prior to year 1)
ProgramAge of entrySchool yearAge of entry

New South Wales (a)Preschool Generally 4 and 5 year oldsKindergarten5 by 31 July
Victoria (b)Kindergarten4 by 30 AprilPreparatory (Prep)5 by 30 April
QueenslandKindergarten4 by 30 JunePreparatory (Prep)5 by 30 June
Western AustraliaKindergarten4 by 30 JunePre Primary5 by 30 June
South Australia (c)Preschool4 by 1 MayReception5 by 1 May
TasmaniaKindergarten4 by 1 JanuaryPreparatory5 by 1 January
Australian Capital TerritoryPreschool4 by 30 AprilKindergarten5 by 30 April
Northern Territory (d)Preschool4 by 30 JuneTransition5 by 30 June

(a) New South Wales subsidises early access to community preschool for 3 year old Aboriginal children and 3 year old children from low-income families. In New South Wales, all licensed children’s services for under 6 year olds (who have not commenced Kindergarten) are required to offer programs that meet children’s educational and developmental needs.
(b) In Victoria, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and children known to child protection are eligible for free kindergarten through Early Start Kindergarten funding if they are aged 3 by 30 April of the year in which they are enrolled.
(c) South Australia provides early access to Department funded preschool for children who are Aboriginal or under the Guardianship of the Minister after their 3rd Birthday. The compulsory school starting age in South Australia is 6 years at the oldest.
(d) In the Northern Territory, children living in very remote areas can attend preschool from the age of three, provided a parent/guardian accompany the child and remain with them at each session until they reach the age of three years and six months.
Source: Report on Government Services 2019.


The scope of the Collection consists of all service providers delivering a preschool program to children aged 3 to 6 years (inclusive) enrolled during the reference period.

Service Provider
A service provider is considered to be in-scope if it was providing a structured, play based learning program, delivered by a degree qualified teacher, aimed at children in the year or two before they commence full-time schooling (a preschool program) during the reference period.

All children who as at 1 July in the collection year were aged between 3 and 6 years (inclusive) and were enrolled in a preschool program during the reference period are in-scope. To be considered as enrolled, the child must have attended the preschool program for at least one hour during the reference period, or be absent due to illness or extended holiday leave and expected to return.

In an effort to achieve comprehensive coverage, data were sourced from the Australian Government, state and territory education departments and the Catholic Education Office of the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn. The data are mainly sourced from administrative collections, supplemented where necessary to improve the coverage of service providers not otherwise captured due to funding, regulation or licensing arrangements. The coverage in each state and territory for the 2018 Collection is described in Appendix 3 - Jurisdictional Data Quality Statements (available in the second stage of release).


To ensure national comparability, all jurisdictions were required to follow national data standards. The Early Childhood Education and Care National Minimum Data Set (ECEC NMDS) is a set of national data standards which has been established by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), in conjunction with the ABS, the Department of Education and Training, and state and territory departments responsible for early childhood education. More information on the ECEC NMDS can be found on the AIHW website.

Not all jurisdictions were able to align their collection methods precisely with these standards as described in Appendix 3 (available in the second stage of release). Issues affecting data comparability between the states and territories are included as footnotes and/or explanatory notes within this publication.


For the 2018 Collection, information on preschool programs delivered in Centre Based Day Care (CBDC) settings was provided by the Australian Government from the Child Care Subsidy System (CCSS). All services approved for administering Child Care Subsidy (CCS) are obliged to provide data.


The Collection date is the first Friday in August of each year. The census date for the 2018 Collection is Friday 3 August 2018, with the 1 week reference period spanning 30 of July to the 5 of August 2018. Some jurisdictions may adopt a 2 week reference period that includes the census week. This means the permissible period spans the 23 of July to the 12 of August 2018 inclusive. Jurisdictional collection dates and reference periods for 2018 are summarised in the table below.

Jurisdictional Collection Dates and Reference Periods - 2018

Jurisdiction Collection Date Reference Period

Australian Government 3 August 201830 July - 5 August 2018
New South Wales 3 August 2018 30 July - 10 August 2018(a)
Victoria 3 August 2018 30 July - 4 August 2018
Queensland 3 August 2018 30 July - 5 August 2018
South Australia 3 August 2018 30 July - 10 August 2018(a)
Western Australia 3 August 2018 30 July - 3 August 2018
Tasmania 3 August 2018 30 July - 10 August 2018(a)
Northern Territory 3 August 2018 18 June - 3 August 2018(b)
Australian Capital Territory 3 August 2018 23 July – 3 August 2018(a)(c)
30 July - 10 August 2018(a)(d)

(a) Jurisdiction collected data for a fortnightly reference period to reflect their preschool delivery model
(b) Reference period for NT did not apply for school holidays between 2 July 2018 - 20 July 2018. In addition one remote school operates on different school terms. The reference period for this school is 11 June 2018 - 17 August 2018.
(c) Reference period for ACT Catholic preschools.
(d) Reference period for ACT Independent & Government preschools.


Jurisdictions collect and report data for the Collection using a Unit Record Level (URL) collection methodology. A URL methodology collects information for individual children and service providers. A URL collection is the most appropriate method for ensuring a child who is enrolled in multiple preschool programs is only counted once in child level estimates.

For the Collection, an episode is a single occurrence of a child enrolled in and/or attending a preschool program. When a child attends two different preschool programs, this is described as a child having two attendance episodes.

Unique Child Counts
The unique child count ensures that when a child attends two or more different preschool programs, the child is only counted once. In any given collection year, the number of unique children will be expected to be less than their number of preschool episodes.

Year Before Full-Time Schooling (YBFS)
The YBFS population takes into account the preschool and school entry provisions of the state in which the child usually resides and the child’s date of birth. As part of deriving this state-specific YBFS population, adjustment factors have been applied to certain cohorts for both New South Wales and Victoria to account for the rates at which children proceed from preschool to school education in those states. The adjustments are based on advice from the state education departments and are:
For NSW, children aged between 3 years and 11 months and 4 years and 6 months (at 1 July of collection year) are likely to proceed to school in the following year at a rate of 56%.
For Victoria, children aged between 4 years and 2 months and 4 years and 6 months (at 1 July of collection year) are likely to proceed to school the following year at a decreasing rate (month of birth: January 74%, February 63%, March 52%, April 41%).


Fee schedules can differ between programs, organisations and jurisdictions. Fees may be charged daily, weekly, annually, per session or per term. If data is collected at any level other than weekly, the weekly fee is derived from the collected fee and fee schedule. Fees charged are usually based on the number of hours of a preschool program a child is enrolled to receive.

Information on fees is collected at the episode level. Where a child has more than one preschool episode, their fees are calculated by summing the fees for all of their episodes.

Data on fees are rounded to the nearest dollar for publication.


For URL data, information on hours is collected at the episode level. Where a child has more than one episode at a preschool program their hours are calculated by summing the hours for all of their episodes.

Data on hours are rounded to the nearest hour for publication. Hours less than 1 but more than 0 are rounded to 1 hour.


The preliminary ERP figures presented in this publication are published numbers based on the 2016 Census. The ABS has provided these numbers as indicative only. They have been included here to support comparative reporting that has been performed using the 2016 ERP time series. In the Collection, children enrolled and attending preschool programs in Jervis Bay have been included in statistics for the ACT. The Other Territories of Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands have been included in statistics for WA. Norfolk Island has been included in statistics for NSW. Official ERP numbers for WA, ACT and NSW do not include Other Territories.

ESTIMATED RESIDENT POPULATION(a), Single Year of Age - as at June 2018


3 Year old
4 Year old
5 Year old
6 Year old

(a) Estimated Resident Population (ERP) by state/territory and age as published on 20 December 2018 in Australian Demographic Statistics, June 2018 (cat. no. 3101.0). The Census base for ERP is 2016.
(b) Australia total includes Other Territories.


Statistics in this publication are presented according to Sector, Statistical Geography and Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA).


The Sector classification used in this publication is a combination of the service provider characteristics Service Activity Type and Management Type, which are part of the ECEC NMDS. Where a child is enrolled in multiple preschool programs, the child’s sector is determined by the characteristics of all the providers at which the child was enrolled.

Tables presented with this classification assign episodes and unique child counts to states and territories according to the geographic location of the service provider.

Statistical Geography

For the 2018 Collection, data have been classified to the 2016 Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) standard. The ASGS has been updated based on results from the 2016 Census, including Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA) and Remoteness Area.

The digital boundaries, codes and labels for each of these regions can be downloaded from the ABS website free of charge.

The Remoteness Structure within the ASGS divides each state and territory into areas on the basis of their relative access to services. The classes of Remoteness Area (RA) are:
Major Cities of Australia
Inner Regional Australia
Outer Regional Australia
Remote Australia
Very Remote Australia
Migratory - Offshore - Shipping
No usual address.

For more information please refer to the online publication: Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS): Volume 5 - Remoteness Structure, July 2016 (cat. no. 1270.0.55.005).

There are two sets of statistics presented using RAs in this publication. The RA of the child’s main service provider is used, as well as the RA of the child’s usual residence. Where a child’s usual residence is not stated, their main service provider’s geography is used as a proxy. If the service provider’s geography is also not stated, the child’s RA may be imputed where possible and otherwise included only in the totals. It is possible for states or territories to have a zero count in a certain RA class; Tasmania does not contain a Major City, the Northern Territory does not contain a Major City or an Inner Regional classification, and ACT does not contain Remote or Very Remote classifications.

The quantity of records for which RA was derived, using service provider geography, can be identified from the Not Stated SEIFA IRSD data.

The ASGS Local Government Areas are an ABS approximation of gazetted local government boundaries as defined by each State and Territory Local Government Department. The 2018 edition of the Local Government Areas (LGAs) structure has been used in the collection. For more information, see Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS): Volume 3 - Non ABS Structures, July 2018 (cat. no. 1270.0.55.003).

The ASGS Indigenous Structure provides a geographical standard for the publication of statistics about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population of Australia. The 2016 edition of the Indigenous Structure has been used in the collection. For more information, see Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS): Volume 2 - Indigenous Structure, July 2016 (cat. no. 1270.0.55.002).

The ASGS Commonwealth Electoral Divisions are an ABS approximation of Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) electoral division boundaries. The 2018 edition of the Commonwealth Electoral Divisions (CED) structure has been used in the collection. For more information, see Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS): Volume 3 - Non ABS Structures, July 2018 (cat. no. 1270.0.55.003).

The ASGS State Electoral Divisions are an ABS approximation of the respective State and Territory Electoral Commission's state electoral districts. The 2018 edition of the State Electoral Divisions (SED) structure has been used in the collection. For more information, see Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS): Volume 3 - Non ABS Structures, July 2018 (cat. no. 1270.0.55.003).

Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas

The SEIFA is a product developed especially for those interested in the assessment of the welfare of Australian communities. SEIFA is a suite of four summary measures that have been created from 2016 Census of Population and Housing information. For each index, every geographic area in Australia is given a SEIFA number which shows how disadvantaged that area is compared with other areas in Australia. Quintiles are calculated by ordering the scores for all areas from lowest to highest, with the lowest 20% of areas given a quintile number of 1 and so on, up to the highest 20% of areas which are given a quintile number of 5. The indexes provide more general measures of socio-economic status than is given by measuring, for example, income or unemployment alone. The SEIFA index used for the Collection is the Index of Relative Socio-economic Disadvantage (IRSD). Where a child’s geography was not stated, the SEIFA IRSD is published as Not Stated.

For more information on SEIFA please see the Information Paper: An Introduction to Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA), 2006 (cat. no. 2039.0).


The Census and Statistics Act 1905 provides the authority for the ABS to collect statistical information, and requires that statistical output shall not be published or disseminated in a manner that is likely to enable the identification of a particular person or organisation. This requirement means that the ABS must ensure that any statistical information about individuals cannot be derived from published data.

To minimise the risk of identifying individuals in aggregate statistics, a technique is used to randomly adjust cell values and summary variables. This technique is called perturbation. Perturbation involves small random adjustment of the statistics and is considered the most satisfactory technique for avoiding the release of identifiable statistics while maximising the range of information that can be released. These adjustments have a negligible impact on the underlying pattern of the statistics.

After perturbation, a given published cell value will be consistent across all tables. However, adding up cell values to derive a total will not necessarily give the same result as published totals.

Applying perturbation in this publication ensures that these statistics are consistent with statistics released via services such as TableBuilder.


For more information on these Collection measurement concepts see the National Early Childhood Education and Care Collection: Concepts, Sources and Methods (cat. no. 4240.0.55.001).

For more information on data collection instructions and guidelines see the National Early Childhood Education and Care Collection: Data Collection Guide, 2018 (available on request).

Additional statistics are available from Microdata: Preschool Education, Australia (cat. no. 4240.0.55.003) using the TableBuilder and/or DataLab facilities.

For more information on Estimated Resident Population and Population Projections, see Australian Demographic Statistics (cat. no. 3101.0), Regional Population by Age and Sex, Australia (cat. no. 3235.0) and Estimates and Projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians (cat. no. 3238.0).

As well as the statistics included in this and related publications, the ABS may have other relevant data available on request. Inquiries should be made to the National Information and Referral Service (NIRS) on 1300 135 070.