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4221.0 - Schools, Australia, 2011 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 21/03/2012   
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The proportion of school students in Australia who are identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islanders continues to grow, rising from 3.5% in 2001 to almost 5% in 2011. It is however important to note that factors behind the increase may include such things as improvements in the methods used by schools to collect Indigenous status information, and a greater propensity by the students to identify.

Of the 168,803 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students attending school in Australia in 2011, 143,839 (85.2%) were attending government schools, 16,098 (9.5%) were attending Catholic schools, and 8,866 (5.3%) were attending Independent schools.

These proportions varied considerably across the states; for example in the Northern Territory 8.5% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students attended Independent schools, compared with 3.4% in New South Wales. In the Australian Capital Territory 17% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students attended Catholic schools, while in South Australia the figure was 6%.

Graph: all Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students by state/territory and affiliation 2011

Consistent with the overall population distribution, New South Wales and Queensland together accounted for just over 60% (101,863) of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander school students. As a proportion of all students, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student figures varied considerably across the states and territories, ranging from 40% of the Northern Territory’s school student population to just over 1% of Victoria’s.

Although the apparent retention rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students are still well below those of Other students, they are increasing at a faster rate. Over the five-year period 2006 to 2011, the apparent retention rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to Year 12 across Australia rose from 40.1% to 48.7%.

Graph: apparent retention rates from year 7/8 to Year 12 by Indigenous status 2006 to 2011

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