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4725.0 - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Wellbeing: A focus on children and youth, Apr 2011  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 23/05/2012  Reissue
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Contents >> Education, Learning and Skills >> Early learning and care


EDUCATION: EARLY LEARNING AND CARE

This article is part of a comprehensive series released as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Wellbeing: A focus on children and youth.

Note: In this section, 'young children' refers to people aged 0–4 years unless otherwise stated. Data presented are from the ABS National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, 2008 (cat. no. 4714.0) and the
Childhood Education and Care Survey, 2008 (cat. no. 4402.0). Information was provided by the parent or guardian or, where they were not available, by a close relative or other household member with responsibility for the child.

KEY MESSAGES

Of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0–4 years in 2008:
  • 90% had participated in informal learning activities with their main carer in the previous week
  • 22% had attended formal child care in the previous week
  • 44% of those aged 3–4 years were reported to be usually attending preschool, compared with 70% of all Australian children.

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) identifies early childhood – particularly aiding children's preparation for their transition to school – as a target area to improve the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children (Endnote 1). The educational development of young children does not begin with formal schooling; informal learning opportunities at home or in child care, as well as preschool attendance, can play an important role in laying the foundation for early learning and adult education.


INFORMAL LEARNING ACTIVITIES

In 2008, 90% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0–4 years participated in a range of informal learning activities with their main carer in the previous week. The majority (72%) of young children participated in one or more of these activities: reading, watching TV, videos or DVDs and playing music, songs, dance or other musical activities.

Other informal learning activities young children did with their main carer included:
  • drawing, writing or creative activities (52%)
  • indoor or outdoor sport or playing a game (50%)
  • taking part in or attending play group (17%)
  • using a computer (12%).
Young children in non-remote areas were more likely than those in remote areas to have participated in reading activities with their main carer (74% compared with 65%). This was also the case with drawing, writing and other creative activities (54% compared with 44%).

For more information on languages, traditional knowledge and cultural education for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 3–24 years, see the Culture, Heritage and Leisure topic.


FORMAL CHILD CARE

In 2008, almost one-quarter (22%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0–4 years (or 14,400 children) had attended formal child care in the previous week. A considerable proportion of these children (43%) were attending formal child care because of parental work commitments and almost one-third (32%) because their parent or guardian considered it good for their social and intellectual development.

For more information on the use of child care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0–12 years, see Child Care in The Health and Welfare of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, 2010 (cat. no. 4704.0).


PRESCHOOL ATTENDANCE

Attending preschool can be an important part of early childhood learning. In 2008, around 11,400 (44%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 3–4 years were reported to be usually attending preschool. Attendance rates were similar for children living in remote and non-remote areas. Nationally, according to the 2008 Childhood Education and Care Survey, 70% of all Australian children aged 3–4 years (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and non-Indigenous children) were attending preschool or a preschool program.


ENDNOTES

1. Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Reform Council 2011, National Indigenous Reform Agreement (Closing the Gap) Effective 13 February 2011, Canberra <www.federalfinancialrelations.gov.au>

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