2076.0 - Census of Population and Housing: Characteristics of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2016  
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EDUCATIONAL ATTENDANCE AND ATTAINMENT FOR ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER PERSONS

EDUCATIONAL ATTENDANCE

3 to 17 year olds

In 2016, there were 218,776 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children between the ages of 3 and 17 years living in Australia. The large majority of 3 to 17 year old children (81%) were attending pre-school, primary school or secondary school. There was no significant difference in attendance between males and females.

School attendance increased across all age groups between 2006 and 2016. In particular, attendance for males and females in the 15 to 17 year age group increased by one third (37% and 33% respectively).

A number of States and Territories had lower school attendance than the national attendance rate of 81 per cent. They included Queensland (79%), Western Australia (77%) and Northern Territory (76%). Attendance was also marginally lower for children usually residing in non-urban areas of Australia (79%).

18 to 24 year olds

In 2016 there were 82,209 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people between the ages of 18 and 24 years living in Australia. Since the 2006 Census, attendance at Universities or other Tertiary Institutions increased for 18 to 24 year old males (from 4% to 7%) and females (from 7% to 12%). Over this 10 year period females were consistently more likely than males to attend a University or other Tertiary Institution.

9 out of 10 (92%) 18 to 24 year olds attending a University or other Tertiary Institution had completed Year 12 or equivalent, and nearly all (99%) had completed Year 10 or equivalent.

Graph Image for Further Education Attendance by Sex, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, 18-24 years old, 2006 to 2016

Footnote(s): (a) Includes TAFE colleges

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2006, 2011 and 2016




Attendance at Universities or other Tertiary Institutions varied significantly across States and Territories. In the Australian Capital Territory almost 1 in 5 (19%) 18 to 24 year olds were attending either a University or other Tertiary Institution, followed by 14 per cent in Victoria. However, only 6 per cent attended in Western Australia and 2 per cent in the Northern Territory.

Those residing in urban areas of Australia were almost 3 times more likely than those residing in non-urban areas to attend a University or other Tertiary Institution (11% compared to 4%). They were also almost twice as likely to attend a Technical or Further Education Institution (7% compared to 4%).

LEVEL OF HIGHEST EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT

Between 2011 and 2016, the proportion of 20 to 64 year olds who did not attain a post-Year 12 level qualification decreased from 58 per cent to 50 per cent. At the same time, educational attainment increased across all types of higher non-school qualifications. In particular, the proportion having attained a Post Graduate Degree, Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate qualifications increased from 1 per cent to 2 per cent, or by 2,676 people.

Highest educational attainment in the Census

Level of Highest Educational Attainment (HEAP) was introduced as a new variable for the 2006 Census for the purposes of obtaining a single measure of educational attainment. HEAP is derived from information on the highest year of school completed and level of highest non-school qualification regardless of the particular field of study or the type of institution in which the study was undertaken. The derivation process determines which of the 'non-school' and 'school' attainments will be regarded as the highest. Usually the higher ranking attainment is self-evident, but in some cases secondary education is regarded as higher than some Certificate level attainments.

In 2016, 20 to 64 year old females were almost twice as likely as males to have attained a higher level non-school qualification than males. This was true for all tertiary level qualifications including Postgraduate qualifications (2% compared to 1%), Bachelor Degrees (7% compared to 4%), and Advanced Diploma or Diplomas (9% compared to 5%).

Males were more likely than females to have attained a Certificate III or Certificate IV (23% compared to 17%).

Graph Image for Highest Educational Attainment by Sex, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, 20-64 years old, 2011 to 2016

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2011 and 2016



The gap between male and female higher educational attainment is increasing. Between 2011 and 2016 the rate of growth across almost all levels of educational attainment was greater for females than males.



EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT RATE OF GROWTH (a) BY SEX, 20 TO 64 YEARS OLD, ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDERS, 2011 TO 2016

Postgraduate Degree, Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate

Bachelor Degree

Advanced Diploma or Diploma

Certificate level I to IV

Year 12

GROWTH 2011 TO 2016 (%)
Males
127%
118%
135%
119%
110%
Females
152%
120%
147%
129%
103%

(a) To remove the impact that natural population growth may have, the Rate of Growth is calculated using the change in proportions (%) of the male/female population with a qualification, not the change in counts of male/female population with a qualification.
.
Source: ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2011 and 2016


The Australian Capital Territory had the highest rate of higher level qualification attainment with one third (33%) of 20 to 64 year olds with a qualification at Advanced Diploma or Diploma level or above. They were followed by Victoria (20%), New South Wales (16%) and Queensland (14%). The Northern Territory had the lowest rate (5%) followed by Western Australia (10%).

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons in urban areas were approximately twice as likely as those from non-urban areas to have attained:
    • a Post Graduate Degree, Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate (2% compared to 1%),
    • a Bachelor Degree (6% compared to 3%), and
    • an Advanced Diploma or Diploma (7% compared to 4%).

Persons usually residing in urban areas were also more likely to have attained a Certificate Level III/IV level qualification (21% compared to 16%).

Graph Image for Highest Educational Attainment by Section of State, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, Australia, 2016

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016



FIELD OF STUDY OF HIGHEST NON-SCHOOL QUALIFICATION

The Census asks persons who have a non-school qualification to specify the field of study for their highest completed qualification. The 2016 Census revealed that there was a clear divide between the fields of study that males and females completed. In 2016, qualifications for males were concentrated in the fields of Engineering and Related Technologies (21%) and Architecture (12%). Very few females had attained qualifications in these two fields (2% and 0% respectively).

In contrast, qualifications for females were most likely to be in the fields of Society and Culture (22%), and Management and Commerce (21%). A much smaller proportion of males completed studies in these two fields (8% each respectively).

Relative to males, a comparatively large proportion of females also gained qualifications in the fields of:
    • Health (12% compared to 4%),
    • Education (10% compared to 3%), and
    • Food Hospitality and Personal Services (8% compared to 4%).

Graph Image for Field of Study (a) by Sex, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, 20-64 years old, Australia, 2016

Footnote(s): (a) Field of study is captured in the Census for a persons highest non school qualification.

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016