A person’s educational qualifications can influence their health status and health outcomes. Higher levels of education can lead to:
- greater health literacy (a person’s ability to find, understand, and apply health information), which can have a direct impact on a person’s health
- better prospects for employment and income, which can help people access good quality housing, healthy food, and health care services.
Health also influences education. Poor health through life, and health conditions like vision and hearing impairment, especially in childhood, can disrupt a person’s schooling and affect their ability to learn (Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet 2020).
Over the past decade from 2012 to 2021:
- the proportion of Indigenous school students in Year 5 who were at or above the national minimum standards increased for numeracy (13%) and spelling (9.9%). Likewise, the proportion of Indigenous students at or above the national minimum standards increased for Year 7 in spelling (5.7%) and Year 3 in reading (11%).
- the proportion of Indigenous students staying in school from the first year of secondary school (Year 7 in most states and territories, and Year 8 in South Australia) to Year 12 increased by 7.9 percentage points to 59%.
Rates of highest education or training level completed have also improved significantly.
- The proportion of Indigenous young adults aged 20–24 who had attained at least a Year 12 qualification or a non-school qualification at certificate II level or above increased from 45% in 2008 to 66% (73,900 people) in 2018–19.
- The proportion of Indigenous adults aged 20–64 whose highest educational qualification was a certificate III or above increased from 27% (66,600) in 2008 to 45% (183,500) in 2018–19, mainly due to increased attainment of certificate III or advanced diploma qualifications.
- The proportion of Indigenous adults aged 20–64 whose highest educational qualification was a certificate III or advanced diploma increased from 21% (52,500) in 2008 to 37% (150,900) in 2018–19.
- The proportion of Indigenous adults aged 20–64 whose highest educational qualification was a Bachelor's degree or above increased from 5.7% (14,100) in 2008 to 8.1% (32,800) in 2018–19 (Figure 5.2).
Figure 5.2: Attainment of post-school qualifications among Australians aged 20–64, by Indigenous status, 2008 to 2017–19 (per cent of population)
Educational attainment among Indigenous Australians was highest in Major cities. In 2018–19, among Indigenous Australians:
- the proportion aged 20–24 with a Year 12 or a non-school qualification at certificate II level or above was 85% in Major cities, compared with 38% in Very remote areas
- the proportion aged 20–64 with a certificate III or advanced diploma was 46% (71,200) in Major cities, compared with 19% (9,800) in Very remote areas.
- the proportion aged 20–64 with a bachelor’s degree or above was 14% (21,100) in Major cities, compared with 2.9% (2,300) in Remote or Very remote areas.
Educational achievement for all students decreases with increasing remoteness, and this disparity is more significant for Indigenous than non-Indigenous students.
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