The rate at which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students are staying on to do year 12 studies is outstripping the national rate, a new report card on the wellbeing of young Australians shows.
The Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth report released by federal Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt last week found there was good news as well as bad.
Worth celebrating was the retention rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students staying on to year 12, which jumped from 28 percent to 62.4 percent from 2011-2017.
Nationally, retention rates rose seven percent over the same period to 84.8 percent.
Mr Wyatt said the increase in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children staying on to higher school studies was “excellent”.
In sports too, Indigenous young people are participating at rates above the national figure.
A massive 92.1 percent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders aged between 15-24 participated in a sport or recreational physical activity, compared to 82.1 percent for the nation.
Fewer Indigenous children aged 12-17 were also found to have used illicit drugs than the national figure — 4.5 percent for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children compared to 12.9 percent for the whole of Australia.
The ARACY uses the latest data from sources such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the international Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to produce a report card on the emotional, social and physical wellbeing of Australian youth.
Some worrying signs
But while there were some gains for Indigenous Australia in this year’s report there were also losses.
Nearly 32 percent of Indigenous children up to the age of 14 lived in homes that ran out of money for basic living expenses in 2014-15.
They were also nearly three times more likely to be unemployed or looking for work (12.1 per cent versus 4.7 percent nationally).
Indigenous children are also 10 times more likely to be in out-of-home care than other children, 25 times more likely to be in detention and Indigenous youth are 15 times more likely to be in prison.
They are three times more likely to take their own lives.
A worrying 45 percent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women smoked in the first 20 weeks of their pregnancy compared to the national figure of 10 percent.
Nearly 12 percent of Indigenous babies were born with low birthweight compared to 6.5 percent nationally.
The death rate for Indigenous children under the age of 14 due to injury was 15.3 per 100,000 children compared to 4.3 per 100,000 nationally.
‘These kids need a fair go’
ARACY called for the problems facing young Australians to be a top priority for all governments.
“A particular concern is too many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids are not getting a fair go,” ARACY chief executive officer Stephen Bartos said.
For more about the report, visit here.