National Report on Schooling in Australia 2011

Part 7

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education¹
 

Overview

Equity in education and training outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has been a policy objective of Australian governments since the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Policy was endorsed in 1989.
 
The Indigenous Education (Targeted Assistance) Act 2000 supported this objective through the provision of funding, with outcomes attained reported annually to the Australian Parliament.
 

Closing the Gap

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) has set goals of halving the gap in reading, writing and numeracy achievement between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students by 2018, and of halving the gap in Year 12 or equivalent attainment by 2020.
 
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Action Plan 2010–2014 was developed as part of the COAG reform agenda to improve life outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, taking into consideration the findings and recommendations of a review of Australian Directions in Indigenous Education 2005–2008 undertaken in 2009. The plan seeks to bring together existing commitments made through other key reforms including the National Indigenous Reform Agreement (NIRA). Its purpose is to guide national efforts towards closing the gaps in educational outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.
 
The Action Plan identifies national, systemic and local level action in six priority domains identified as having the greatest impact on closing the gap:
 
  • Readiness for school
  • Engagement and connections
  • Attendance
  • Literacy and numeracy
  • Leadership, quality teaching and workforce development
  • Pathways to real post-school options.
This section reflects this structure, with one minor difference. The domain ‘Attendance’ is entitled ‘Attendance (comprising enrolment, progression, retention and attendance)’ to reflect the terms used to describe these measures elsewhere in this report.

This section adopts the domain structure to report national data and commentary on:
 
  • Key performance measures (KPMs) set out in the Measurement Framework for Schooling in Australia, disaggregated, where data are available, by Indigenous status
  • performance indicators for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education outcomes prescribed in the National Education Agreement (NEA) and NIRA
  • gaps in outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Islander students related to COAG targets.
It adopts, as far as possible, the six domains identified in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Action Plan as a framework for doing so. For 2010, national data are available for the domains of ‘attendance’ and ‘literacy and numeracy’ only.
However, national data are not available for all of the Action Plan priority domains. For 2011, the domains for which national data are available are:
 
  • Readiness for school
  • Attendance (comprising enrolment, progression, retention and attendance)
  • Literacy and numeracy.
 
Additional information on activities at national and State and Territory level to support outcomes under the domains is available in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Action Plan 2010–2014 2011 Annual Report. 
 
 

¹ The Melbourne Declaration, MCEETYA four-year plan 2009–2012 and Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data collections use the term ‘Indigenous’ to refer to Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Where possible, this report uses ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander’ in preference to ‘Indigenous’. However, in some instances, particularly in relation to data, the term ‘Indigenous’ has been retained.