4240.0.55.001 - National Early Childhood Education and Care Collection: Concepts, Sources and Methods, 2013  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 07/03/2014  Final
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A preschool program, also referred to as an Early Childhood Education (ECE) program, for the purposes of the Collection 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. This manual uses the term 'preschool program', notwithstanding that the terminology varies considerably across state and territories.

A preschool program can be delivered in a variety of settings such as stand-alone preschools, pre-schools co-located as part of a school (both government and non-government), and preschools within a LDC centre. 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. LDC centres may or may not offer a preschool program as part of their service offering. Participation in preschool is not compulsory and is influenced by parental preference and other factors, such as school starting age in the particular jurisdiction.

Terminology and age entry requirements differ across states and territories. These differences are summarised in Table 3.1.


Preschool (Year before full-time schooling)First year of School (Year prior to Grade 1)

JurisdictionProgram nameAge entry requirementProgram nameAge entry requirement

New South WalesPreschoolGenerally aged 3 and 4Kindergarten(b)5 by 31 July

VictoriaKindergarten4 by 30 AprilPreparatory (Prep)(b)5 by 30 April

QueenslandKindergarten/Pre-Preparatory (Pre-Prep)4 by 30 JunePreparatory Year (Prep)(c)5 by 30 June

South AustraliaPreschool/Kindergarten4 by 30 April (d)(e)Reception(b)5 by 30 April

Western AustraliaKindergarten4 by 30 JunePre Primary(f)5 by 30 June

TasmaniaKindergarten4 by 1 JanuaryPreparatory(g)5 by 1 January

Northern TerritoryPreschool4 by 30 June(h)Transition(b)5 by 30 June

Australian Capital TerritoryPreschool4 by 30 AprilKindergarten(b)5 by 30 April

(a) Sourced from the 2014 Report on Government Services (SCRGSP, 2014).
(b) Program is compulsory from age 6.
(c) Program is non-compulsory. Children starting school from age 6 can enrol into Year 1.
(d) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and children under the guardianship of the Minister may commence preschool from 3 years of age.
(e) Entry in Term 1 if 4th birthday prior to 29 Jan, otherwise entry in Term 2 (2013 transitional arrangement only).
(f) Program is compulsory. Children who turn 5 years of age on or before 30 June must be enrolled in a school.
(g) Program is compulsory from age 5.
(h) For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in remote areas, age requirement is 3 years old by 30 June.


The age reference date for child data is 1 July in the collection reference year. Jurisdictions that utilised an aggregate data collection methodology for any part of their collection were required to derive children’s ages as at 1 July in the reference year. Jurisdictions that utilised a Unit Record Level (URL) data methodology collected and supplied the date of birth for every child episode record. The ABS then derived the age of each child as at 1 July in the reference year.

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