This report builds on previous reviews and reports into boarding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students with the aim of improving the understanding of the benefits and impacts of the existing investment in boarding provision. In addition, it examines how government investment (both state/territory and Commonwealth) in boarding provision and support services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander secondary students can be best used by boarding providers to inform continued benefits from the investment, develop sustainable and effective models of boarding delivery and achieve improved educational outcomes.
Twenty-seven Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander boarding providers, providing boarding for approximately 1,900 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander secondary students were analysed for this report. The findings were compared against 23 mainstream boarding providers
- Special assistance schools (SAS) play an important role in meeting the needs of students who have had a disrupted education due to disadvantage. These facilities provide an individualised, flexible and culturally appropriate learning environment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander boarders, as well as providing access to counselling, social and emotional well-being and health services aimed at addressing disadvantage and disability.
- There is a transition occurring in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander boarding sector away from the traditional long established large boarding providers to a new model of boarding provider that caters for smaller numbers of boarders, usually from a common background or home geographical region.
- Greater numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students now have the opportunity to access leading Australian schools in state capital cities and major regional centres around the country. These programs usually target high performing students and have impacted upon enrolments at the traditional long established Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander boarding providers.
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander boarding providers rely heavily on ABSTUDY to meet the cost of boarding. Over the last 50 years ABSTUDY has enabled many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to access a quality secondary education.