Education is considered to be a key factor in improving the health and wellbeing of Indigenous Australians. Higher levels of educational attainment are thought to directly impact on health by improving a person's health-related knowledge and their ability to efficiently use this information. 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 opportunities for self-development and reduces social alienation (SCRGSP 2007a) (for more information on how socioeconomic status influences health, see Chapter 8).
The first part of this chapter provides an overview of the educational attainment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from the 2006 Census of Population and Housing. The second explores the ways in which education, employment and health are interlinked. Previously, this report has outlined how health impacts on Indigenous children's participation and attendance at school (ABS & AIHW 2005). With the subsequent release of the 2004-05 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (NATSIHS), this chapter examines the related issue of how education impacts on economic and health outcomes in adulthood.