National Report on Schooling in Australia 2009

Part 7

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education

Overview

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Policy (AEP) is Australia’s national policy on Indigenous education. The policy features 21 national goals for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education and training, which were endorsed by all Australian governments when the policy was launched in 1989. The AEP’s overarching objective is to bring about equity in education and training outcomes for Indigenous Australians.

Closing the Gap

In 2007, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) set a goal of halving the gap in literacy and numeracy achievement between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students within a decade, and to halve the gap in Year 12 attainment or vocational equivalent by 2020.
In the 2008–09 Commonwealth budget, $56.4 million national funding over four years was allocated for the ‘Closing the Gap – expansion of intensive literacy and numeracy programs and individual learning plans’ measures. The key elements are:
  • the Expansion of Intensive Literacy and Numeracy Programs component, which provides extra help for schools, enabling them to expand intensive literacy and numeracy approaches that have been successful with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students

  • the Individual Learning Plans component, now known as the Personalised Learning Plans component, which provides professional development support to assist teachers to prepare and maintain personalised learning plans for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in every year of schooling up to Year 10.

Expansion of intensive literacy and numeracy programs complements the broader Australian Government investment in school education and actions under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Action Plan and the Smarter Schools Partnership Agreements with resources to assist education funding recipients to intensify efforts towards halving the gap in educational outcomes between Indigenous and non‐Indigenous students by 2018.
 

Review of Australian Directions in Indigenous Education 2005–2008

In 2009, the Review of Australian Directions in Indigenous Education 2005–2008 (Australian Directions) was completed for MCEECDYA with a focus on identifying the effectiveness of the Australian Directions, which targeted the improvement of outcomes in Indigenous education. The review included recommendations on priorities for future collaborative work to be undertaken by education authorities in the government, Catholic and independent school sectors. This review helped shape the future directions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander educational outcomes.
 
In 2009 it was recommended that a National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Action Plan with specific teaching and learning outcomes be established. This plan will incorporate MCEECDYA and COAG agreed regional and local school level strategies and recommendations that will lead to future work.
 
Information on a range of programs to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education and youth is available on the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations website.
 

Terminology

The Melbourne Declaration, MCEETYA four-year plan 2009–2012 and 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 the term ‘Indigenous’.