Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework (HPF) 2012

Tier 2—Socio-economic factors—2.05 Education outcomes for young people

The HPF was designed to measure the impact of the National Strategic Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health (NSFATSIH) and will be an important tool for developing the new National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan (NATSIHP).

Page last updated: 15 November 2012

Why is it important?:

Education, including formal schooling and education in culture, is related to health and wellbeing (Educational Determinants of Aboriginal Health Group 2004; Bell et al. 2007). Higher levels of education have also been associated with healthy lifestyle choices and improved health literacy. Research has shown that health outcomes are influenced by a person's ability to use a wide range of health-related materials (ABS 2008b). Research in the US (Wong et al. 2002) found that mortality from all causes was higher for persons with fewer years of education, particularly for smoking-related diseases. Persons without a high school education lost 12.8 potential life-years per person. International literature has also documented improvements in child mortality associated with increased levels of maternal education and attributed this to a variety of factors, including improved understanding of and greater willingness to access health services (Gakidou et al. 2010).

The 'retention rate' measures the extent to which students stay on at school until Year 10, and until Year 12. Another measure is the 'attainment rate', the extent to which students are awarded a certificate at the end of Year 10 or Year 12. Historically, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students have had lower retention and attainment rates compared with non-Indigenous students. The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) has committed to improving educational and employment outcomes (COAG 2007). The National Partnership Agreement on Youth Attainment and Transitions between the Australian Government and states and territories commits all parties to work towards achieving a Year 12 or equivalent attainment rate of 90 per cent by 2015, and to halve the gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Year 12 or equivalent attainment by 2020. Successful completion of Year 12 is critical to improving economic and social status. Higher levels of education improve employment prospects, future income, standard of housing and access to health care (Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision 2007; ABS & AIHW 2008).

Findings:

Data for 2011 show that the apparent retention rate of full-time Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from Years 7/8 to Year 10 was 99% compared with 101% for other students. In the same year, the apparent retention rate of full-time Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from Years 7/8 to Year 12 was 49% compared with 81% for other students. The apparent retention rate of full-time Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from Year 11 to Year 12 was 68% compared with 87% for other students. The apparent retention rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females was similar to the rate for males from Year 7/8 to Year 10 (99% compared with 98%) but the rate was higher for females than males for retention from Year 7/8 to Year 12 (51% compared with 46%).

There have been significant apparent increases in Indigenous student retention rates from Year 7/8 to Year 12 (48%), Year 7/8 to Year 10 (17%) and Year 10 to Year 12 (25%) between 1998 and 2011. In 2011, Tasmania, the ACT and NSW had the highest retention rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from Year 7/8 to Year 10 (115%, 107% and 106% respectively), while the NT had the lowest (83%). Retention rates of Indigenous students from Year 7/8 to Year 12 were highest in the ACT (76%) and SA (68%) and were lowest in the NT (33%) and WA (40%). Rates for Tasmania and the ACT should be interpreted with caution, due to small numbers in these jurisdictions. Some rates exceed 100%, reflecting the movement of students interstate and from non-government to government schools in Years 11 and 12.

National attainment rates indicate that in 2006 less than half (47%) of Indigenous 20–24 year olds had attained at least a Year 12 or equivalent qualification compared with 84% of non-Indigenous Australians of the same age. Indigenous attainment rates were highest in the ACT (66%), followed by Qld, Victoria and Tasmania (around 57%) and lowest in the NT (18%) (COAG Reform Council 2010). In this same period, attainment rates for Indigenous young people steadily decreased with remoteness (from 59% in major cities to 50% in regional areas, 37% in remote areas and 23% in very remote areas). In comparison, the non-Indigenous attainment rate was not affected by remoteness to the same extent, with a rate of 86% in major cities and around 75% in all other areas. The gap widens from 27 percentage points in major cities to 38 in remote areas and 54 in very remote areas (COAG Reform Council 2010).

In the 2008 NATSISS, Indigenous parents identified a range of assistance that would support children to complete Year 12 such as support from family, friends and school (83%); career guidance (36%); subsidies or grants to help with affordability (25%); and schools being suitable for culture and/or beliefs (17%).

Informal education is also important for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and strengths in non-school based education, such as strong direction from Elders, should be considered in the context of retention and attainment rates. For example in 2008 most (94%) children aged 0–14 had been involved in informal learning activities in last week and nearly half (42%) of children aged 3–14 years had spent time with an Indigenous leader or elder in last week.Top of page

Implications:

Multi-faceted strategies addressing access to education, family and community engagement, home learning environments, mentors, culturally inclusive support strategies and pathways to employment are needed. COAG has committed to a range of reforms in education designed to improve outcomes for Indigenous students (see measure 2.04). The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Action Plan 2010–2014 involves the Australian states and territories, and non-government education providers in activities to close education-related gaps. This measure should be examined in conjunction with educational participation in other settings, for instance Year 12 equivalent qualifications in VET education (see measure 2.06).
Figure 93—Apparent Year 10 retention rates, by Indigenous status, 1998–2011
Figure 93—Apparent Year 10 retention rates, by Indigenous status, 1998–2011
Source: AIHW analysis of ABS National Schools Statistics Collection
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Figure 94—Apparent Year 12 retention rates, by Indigenous status, 1998–2011
Figure 94—Apparent Year 12 retention rates, by Indigenous status, 1998–2011
Source: AIHW analysis of ABS National Schools Statistics Collection
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Figure 95—Apparent Year 11 to Year 12 retention rates, by Indigenous status and sex, 2004 to 2011
Figure 95—Apparent Year 11 to Year 12 retention rates, by Indigenous status and sex, 2004 to 2011
Source: AIHW analysis of ABS National Schools Statistics Collection
Table 28—Apparent retention rates , by Indigenous status, jurisdiction and sex, 2011
Year 7/8 to 10Top of page
Indig.
NSW
Indig.
Vic.
Indig.
Qld
Indig.
WA
Indig.
SA
Indig.
Tas.
Indig.
ACT
Indig.
NT
Indig.
Aust.
Non-Indig.
Aust.
Males
105.8
91.3
98.7
93.9
100.3
114.5
107.8
72.9
98.4
100.7
Females
106.3
98.6
96.3
90.9
103.8
116.2
105.3
88
99
101.8
Total
106.1
95
97.5
92.4
102
115.2
106.7
83.3
98.7
101.3
Year 7/8 to 12
Indig.
NSW
Indig.
Vic.
Indig.
Qld
Indig.
WA
Indig.
SA
Indig.
Tas.
Indig.
ACT
Indig.
NT
Indig.
Aust.
Non-Indig.
Aust.
Males
36.7
44.8
59.5
38.8
69
37.9
70
34.5
46.1
75.9
Females
49
49.9
61.5
42
67.8
51.3
83.3
31.1
51.3
85.8
Total
42.9
46.9
60.5
40.3
68.4
44.7
76.3
32.9
48.7
80.7
Year 11 to 12
Indig.
NSW
Indig.
Vic.
Indig.
Qld
Indig.
WA
Indig.
SA
Indig.
Tas.
Indig.
ACT
Indig.
NT
Indig.
Aust.
Non-Indig.
Aust.
Males
65.7
68.7
75.6
51.5
70.4
82.5
80
53
66.4
84.2
Females
71.8
70.5
73.7
53.9
71.7
88.6
75
50.6
68.5
89.1
Total
69.1
69.6
74.6
51.4
71
86
77.3
51.9
67.5
86.7
Source: AIHW analysis of ABS National Schools Statistics Collection (NSSC)
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