This publication contains statistics on preschool programs in Australia and includes data on children enrolled in and attending preschool programs, and information on service providers. The statistics were compiled from data collected through the National Early Childhood Education and Care Collection (NECECC or the collection).
The NECECC was established in 2010 to improve the quality of early childhood education (ECE) data required for reporting under National Partnership Agreements. Data from the NECECC also supports national ECE reporting through the Report on Government Services and Closing the Gap. The Australian Government and the state and territory governments share responsibility for ECE, and these ECE programs are administered through a range of government and non-government service providers. In delivering the NECECC, the ABS collects, processes, and disseminates the data, and appreciates the support and efforts from governments, education offices and ECE service providers in the production of this publication.
Scope and coverage
The scope of the NECECC consists of all service providers delivering a preschool program to children aged 3 to 6 years (inclusive) enrolled during the reference period.
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.
Children who were aged 3 to 6 years (inclusive) at 1 July in the collection year and were enrolled in a preschool program during the reference period are in-scope. To be considered enrolled, the child must have attended the preschool program for at least one hour during the reference period (including attended an early childhood education program online or remotely, due to COVID-19 impacts), or be absent due to illness, or extended holiday leave, or due to COVID-19 impacts and expected to return.
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 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 2022 collection is described in Jurisdictional data quality statements.
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), supplemented by jurisdictional CBDC data where provided. All services approved for administering Child Care Subsidy (CCS) must provide data.
For the purposes of the NECECC, 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. 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) services. 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. Preschool age entry requirements also differ across states and territories. These differences are summarised in the following table:
|Preschool program||Transition to primary school Foundation year (year prior to year 1)|
|State/territory||Program name||Age of entry - preschool program in|
year before full time schooling (YBFS)
|School year||Age of entry|
|New South Wales (a)||Preschool||Generally aged 4 and 5||Kindergarten||5 by 31 July|
|Victoria (b)||Kindergarten||4 by 30 April||Preparatory (Prep)||5 by 30 April|
|Queensland||Kindergarten||4 by 30 June||Preparatory (Prep)||5 by 30 June|
|Western Australia||Kindergarten||4 by 30 June||Pre Primary||5 by 30 June|
|South Australia (c)||Preschool||4 by 1 May||Reception||5 by 1 May|
|Tasmania||Kindergarten||4 by 1 January||Preparatory||5 by 1 January|
|Australian Capital Territory||Preschool||4 by 30 April||Kindergarten||5 by 30 April|
|Northern Territory (d)||Preschool||4 by 30 June||Transition||5 by 30 June|
- New South Wales subsidises early access to community preschool for 3 year old Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander 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.
- In Victoria, funded Thee-Year-Old Kindergarten was available statewide from 2022. This is in addition to Three-Year-Old Kindergarten already being available to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and children experiencing vulnerability and disadvantaged.
- South Australia provides early access to Department funded preschool for children who are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander 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.
- 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.
Collection date and reference period
The NECECC date is the first Friday in August each year. The census date for the 2022 collection was Friday 5 August 2022, with the 1 week reference period from 1 August to 7 August 2022. Some jurisdictions use a 2 week reference period that includes the census week. This means the permissible reference period spans 24 July to 12 August 2022 inclusive. In exceptional circumstances a different reference period may be used if agreed to by the Australian Department of Education, the jurisdiction and the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Collection dates and reference periods for 2022 are summarised in the table below.
|State/territory||Collection date||Reference period|
|Australian Government||5 August 2022||1 August - 7 August 2022|
|New South Wales||5 August 2022||1 August - 12 August 2022(a)|
|Victoria||5 August 2022||1 August - 6 August 2022|
|Queensland||5 August 2022||1 August - 7 August 2022|
|South Australia||5 August 2022||1 August - 12 August 2022(a)|
|Western Australia||5 August 2022||1 August - 5 August 2022|
|Tasmania||5 August 2022||1 August - 12 August 2022(a)|
|Northern Territory||5 August 2022||20 June - 5 August 2022(b)|
|Australian Capital Territory||5 August 2022||25 July - 5 August 2022(a)(c)|
29 July - 11 August 2022(a)(d)
1 August - 12 August 2022(a)(e)
- Jurisdiction collected data for a fortnightly reference period to reflect their preschool delivery model.
- Reference period for NT did not apply for school holidays between 27 June 2022 - 18 July 2022. In addition, one remote school operates on different school terms. The reference period for this school is 6 June - 12 August.
- Reference period for ACT Catholic preschools.
- Reference period for ACT Government preschools.
- Reference period for ACT Independent preschools.