EDUCATION

This article is part of a comprehensive series released as The Health and Welfare of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

KEY MESSAGES

Educational attainment among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians continues to improve:
Apparent school retention rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander full-time students from Year 7/8 to Year 12 increased from 36% in 2000 to 47% in 2010.
Nationally, the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over completing Year 12 increased from 18% in 2002 to 22% in 2008. The rate of Year 12 completion has also improved in all states and territories.
More Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are completing non-school qualifications, 40% of 25–64 year olds in 2008, up from 32% in 2002.
More Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people were fully engaged in work and/or study in 2008. Just over half (54%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people aged 15–24 years were either working full-time, studying full-time, or both working and studying; up from 47% in 2002.

Higher levels of educational attainment are associated with better health outcomes:
In 2008, 59% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15–34 years who had completed Year 12 reported excellent/very good self-assessed health compared with 49% of those who had left school early (Year 9 or below). For people aged 35 years and over, the rates were 43% and 25% respectively.
The likelihood of smoking also decreased with higher levels of schooling, 34% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15–34 years who had completed Year 12 were current daily smokers compared with 68% of those who had left school early. For people aged 35 years and over the rates were 36% and 48% respectively.

Education is considered a key factor in improving health and wellbeing. It is one of the crucial contributors to the formation of human capital (Endnote 1). Higher levels of educational attainment are generally considered to have a positive association with health as they help to improve health literacy (Endnote 2). Educational attainment is also associated with better employment prospects and higher income which, in turn, may serve to increase access to health-related services and products. Being employed also enhances self-esteem, increases the opportunities for self-development and reduces social alienation (see Adult Health topic for more information on how socioeconomic status is related to health) (Endnote 3).

This article provides information on health and education for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and adults. A range of results are presented, drawing mostly on data from the 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS).

Topics covered in this article are:
school retention
educational attainment
education and employment
links between education and health
education: Torres Strait Islander people

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ENDNOTES

1. Laplagne, P., Glover, M., and Shomos, A. 2007, ‘Effects of Health and Education on Labour Force Participation’, Staff Working Paper, Melbourne, Productivity Commission, May,

2. OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) 2009, ‘Education at a Glance OECD Indicators 2009’, Paris

3. SCRGSP (Steering Committee for the Review of Governance Service Provision) 2007, ‘Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage Key Indicators 2007’, Productivity Commission, Canberra

Source: http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/lookup/4704.0Chapter300Oct+2010
This page last updated 13 April 2011

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