ABORIGINAL & TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER STUDENTS

Many Independent schools enrol Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students are strong in culture, family and Country. These relationships inform the work of Independent schools to close the education gap.

As a group, Indigenous students face significant barriers to educational achievement. In order to overcome these barriers many Indigenous parents are enrolling their children in Independent schools.

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 Indigenous students in 2021. Enrolments of Indigenous 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 Indigenous students. Many Independent boarding schools provide scholarships to support access to education for Indigenous students or are involved in community based programs to provide scholarships to these students.

Schools frequently need to provide many additional educational, health, recreational, wellbeing and pastoral care services in order to assist students to learn successfully.

Also see Boarding schools and Indigenous student enrolment data on Enrolment trends page.