Educational attainment among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continues to improve. Between 2001 and 2006, the proportion of Indigenous people aged 15 years and over who had completed Year 12 increased from 20% to 23%. There was also an increase in the proportion of people who had completed a non-school qualification (20% to 26%).
Higher educational attainment was associated with better employment prospects and higher income in 2006. In every broad age group, Indigenous people aged 15 years and over who had completed Year 12 were more than twice as likely as those who had completed school to Year 9 or below to be in full-time employment in 2006. Likewise, rates of full-time employment were twice as high among Indigenous people aged 25-64 years with a non-school qualification of a Certificate III or above compared with those without a non-school qualification.
Among employed Indigenous people aged 15 years and over, the median individual weekly income for those who had completed Year 12 ($620 per week) was one-and-a-half times that of people who had completed Year 9 or below ($405 per week). Similarly, employed Indigenous people aged 25-64 years who had a Certificate III or above had one-and-a-half times the median individual weekly income of those without a non-school qualification ($791 compared with $510) .
Higher levels of schooling were also linked with improved health outcomes. In 2004-05, Indigenous people aged 18-34 years with higher levels of schooling were more likely than those with lower levels of schooling to report better self-assessed heath and lower levels of psychological distress. They were also less likely to regularly smoke, drink alcohol at risky/high risk levels, be physically inactive and have no usual daily intake of fruit or vegetables.