Broad improvements in educational performance and school attendance among Aboriginal girls will only occur with support programs tailored to their variety of needs and interests, argues this report.
Higher levels of education are related to a range of social and economic benefits for both individuals and society (OECD 2013) but gaps remain between the educational outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples compared with other Australians. A critical element in reducing these outcome gaps is the provision of stronger and more targeted support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people, so they can fully participate and engage in education.
Despite the particular importance of education for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their communities, support programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander school students continue to be dominated by options targeted at boys and/or focussed on sport.
The Girls at the Centre program is a school-based initiative that is highly successful at addressing many of the barriers that prevent stronger school engagement by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls. The program uses a holistic approach to strengthen the full range of social, emotional and academic skills required to fully engage in education and in post-school study and/or work.
The independent evaluation and the ongoing monitoring of the outcomes achieved by Girls at the Centre participants, provide strong evidence of the range of educational and personal outcomes that are achieved by girls who participate, particularly with regards to school attendance, achievement and engagement, and the development of life goals and skills. The outcomes achieved indicate that at the end of Year 9, participants are well placed to successfully transition into Year 10, complete Year 12 and continue into further education, training and/or work.