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4704.0 - The Health and Welfare of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, Oct 2010  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 17/02/2011  Final
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Contents >> Education >> Educational attainment


EDUCATION: EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT
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 people continues to improve:
  • 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 completed non-school qualifications, 40% of 25–64 year olds in 2008, up from 32% in 2002.

Higher levels of educational attainment may impact on health by improving a person's health-related knowledge and his or her ability to use this knowledge. 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 employment. This topic provides an overview of the educational attainment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people drawing on data from the 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS) and focusing on the following measures of attainment:

HIGHEST YEAR OF SCHOOL COMPLETED

Reflecting increasing apparent school retention rates, the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over who had completed Year 12 increased from 18% in 2002 to 22% in 2008 (see table). Rates of Year 12 completion improved in all states and territories, with the largest increases recorded in Western Australia (from 11% to 20%), Victoria (from 19% to 28%), and Queensland (from 24% to 30%).

3.1 HIGHEST YEAR OF SCHOOL COMPLETED, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over(a)—2002 and 2008

2002
2008
no.
%
no.
%

Year 12
47 006
17.9
66 220
22.1
Year 10/11
107 866
41.0
131 385
43.8
Year 9 or below(b)
108 086
41.1
102 085
34.1
Australia
262 958
100.0
299 689
100.0

(a) Excludes persons still attending secondary school.
(b) Includes persons who never attended school.
Source: 2002 and 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Surveys.
These estimates are also available for download in the Education datacube.


Younger Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were more likely than older people to have completed Year 12 (see graph). The proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who had completed Year 12 ranged from 30% of those aged 25–34 years to 8% in the 55–64 years age group.

3.2 COMPLETED SCHOOL TO YEAR 12, persons aged 15–64 years(a)—2008
chart: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous people who had completed Year 12 by age
(a) Excludes persons still attending secondary school.
(b) Estimates for non-Indigenous persons from the Survey of Education and Work were averaged across the 2008 and 2009 surveys.
Source: 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, 2008 and 2009 Surveys of Education and Work.
These estimates are also available for download in the Education datacube.


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in major cities were more likely than those in regional or remote areas of Australia to have completed Year 12. In 2008, 29% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in major cities had completed Year 12, compared with 20% in regional areas and 16% in remote areas.The ACT recorded the highest rate of Year 12 completion (42%, up from 38% in 2002) and the Northern Territory, the lowest (17%, up from 14% in 2002).

The most recent data on highest year of school completed for non-Indigenous Australians is available from the Survey of Education and Work (Endnote 1). Despite improvements in the rates of school completion within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, those aged 15–64 years were less likely than non-Indigenous Australians in the same age group to have completed school to Year 12 in 2008 (23% compared with 58%). They were also more likely to have left school at Year 9 or below (31% compared with 9%). In 2008, 23% of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15–24 years had left school at Year 9 or below, compared with 4% of non-Indigenous young people in the same age group during 2008–2009.

NON-SCHOOL QUALIFICATIONS


Non-school qualifications are attained through the successful completion of vocational education and training (some of which can be undertaken in conjunction with secondary school studies) and/or higher education at tertiary institutions.

In 2008, 40% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 25–64 years had attained a non-school qualification, up from 32% in 2002. This increase was mainly due to higher proportions of Indigenous women and men attaining a Certificate III/IV—up by 7 and 3 percentage points, respectively, when compared with 2002.

The proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males with a non-school qualification was similar to the rate for females (41% compared with 39%). Reflecting the location of tertiary institutions and the availability of jobs that utilise tertiary qualifications, the likelihood of having a non-school qualification was lower for people living in remote areas. Nationally, 50% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 25–64 years in major cities, 41% in regional areas, and 26% in remote areas had a non-school qualification.

3.3 NON-SCHOOL QUALIFICATIONS, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 25–64 years—2008

Major cities
Regional
Remote
Australia
With a non-school qualification
%
%
%
%

Males
51.1
42.1
26.7
41.0
Females
49.7
40.0
25.5
39.4
Persons
50.4
40.9
26.1
40.2

Source: 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey. These estimates are also available for download in the Education datacube.


Highest level of non-school qualification

In 2008, a relatively small number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people had a non-school qualification, the level of which could not be determined (8% of those with a non-school qualification). Around one-in six Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (16%) had obtained a Bachelor degree or above, 14% had obtained an Advanced Diploma/Diploma, and 61% had obtained a Certificate (40% had a Certificate level III/IV, 7% had a Certificate level I/II, and 4% had a certificate, the level of which was not known).

Among those with a non-school qualification, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women were more likely than men to hold a Bachelor degree or above (19% compared with to 14%) or an Advanced Diploma/Diploma (17% compared with 11%) (see graph). However, men were more likely than women to have attained a Certificate III/IV qualification (46% compared with 36%).

3.4 HIGHEST LEVEL OF NON-SCHOOL QUALIFICATION, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 25–64 years—2008
chart: Highest level of non-school qualification attained, by sex, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 25–64 years
(a) Includes postgraduate degree and graduate diploma/certificate.
Source: 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey.
These estimates are also available for download in the Education datacube.


The most recent data on attainment of non-school qualifications by non-Indigenous Australians is available from the Survey of Education and Work (Endnote 1). When results from the two surveys were compared, a significantly smaller proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 25-64 years, than non-Indigenous people, had attained a non-school qualification (40% compared with 62%). In particular, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were less likely to have completed a Bachelor degree or above (7% compared with 26%) or an Advanced Diploma/Diploma (6% compared with 10%). The proportions were, however, similar with regard to Certificate III/IV attainment (16% compared with 18%).
ENDNOTES

1. Estimates for non-Indigenous persons from the Survey of Education and Work were averaged across the 2008 and 2009 surveys.

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