Independent schools are committed to equitable access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to quality education that values their culture, histories and contributions.
Independent schools are committed to building strong relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to close the education gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student enrolments are spread broadly across the Independent school sector. In 2021 there were 16,662 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students enrolled in 956 Independent schools. Eighty-one per cent of Independent schools in Australia enrolled Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in 2021. Enrolments of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in Independent schools have grown at an average annual rate of almost six per cent per year over the last two decades.
There are some Independent schools that provide education to significant populations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, with many of these schools in rural or remote areas.
Independent schools in remote regions are often the sole providers of education for these communities, with 44 schools in the Independent sector having an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander enrolment comprising more than 50 per cent of the total enrolment.
Independent schools that serve significant or solely Indigenous student populations often have very limited capacity to raise private income through fees and fundraising; in many cases this ability is non-existent. These schools rely heavily on government assistance to maintain their operations.
The majority of these schools face high costs in employment; provision of staff housing; transport; construction; maintenance; and accessing professional, student learning and cultural opportunities, due to their remoteness or distance from large population centres.
Other Independent schools, such as urban and regional boarding schools, also have large numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. Many Independent boarding schools provide scholarships to support access to education for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students or are involved in community based programs to provide scholarships to these students.
When needed, schools provide additional educational, health, recreational, wellbeing and pastoral care services in order to assist students to learn successfully.