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First Peoples

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that this resource may contain images or names of people who have since passed away.


This paper uses data from the Census of Population and Housing to examine trends between 2006 and 2016 in post-school educational attainment and participation among the Indigenous population. Indigenous vocational attainment increased considerably between 2006 and 2016. The gap in vocational attainment between Indigenous and non-Indigenous men shrank considerably and Indigenous women are now more likely than non-Indigenous women to have a vocational qualification. Relatively little of the growth in Indigenous vocational attainment between 2011 and 2016 can be attributed to Indigenous identification change.

While Indigenous university participation has increased over the past decade, Indigenous university participation and attainment has failed to keep pace with non-Indigenous growth. As a result, there is a large and growing gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous university attendance and attainment of qualifications at degree level and above. A relatively large proportion of the observed growth in Indigenous university attainment between 2011 and 2016 was the result of increasing Indigenous identification in the census.

The importance of vocational-to-university pathways for Indigenous students appears to have been increasing in importance. These types of pathways are particularly important for Indigenous students who face the some of the highest barriers to university participation: those from remote and disadvantaged areas and women with children.

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CAEPR 2016 Census Paper no.11