The most effective way to reduce poverty and marginalisation in society is through education, which results in high employment, greater expendable income capable of supporting a welfare system and increased personal leisure time; this leads to social stability and optimal conditions for good population health. This paper reports on a participatory action research project that applies the principle of improving secondary educational outcomes for Indigenous and marginalised rural secondary school students as a way of boosting community employment and economic participation, ultimately leading to improved individual and community health. The study explored why students who indicated a will to participate in the workforce were unsuccessful in finding a way, despite showing every indication of being able to make the transition. The paper describes the project aims and methodology and presents the findings of three phases of study. It discusses the economic, social and health costs of young people leaving school to become unemployed.