Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Study finds education the key for Indigenous children

The importance of education and early childhood learning to Indigenous families is a key finding of a landmark study of Indigenous children – Footprints in Time.

Footprints in Time tracks the long-term development of more than 1400 Indigenous children in 11 different communities, along with their parents and carers.

Findings from the study’s third wave, released today, shows encouraging results in educational outcomes for Indigenous children, reflecting the Australian Government’s unprecedented investment in early childhood services to help close the gap on Indigenous disadvantage.

About 87 per cent of children surveyed said they find school enjoyable, with most saying they enjoy practising their reading, writing and maths. The study finds most primary carers are involved in their child’s education, helping with homework or other learning activities.

The study also indicates that children who attend preschool or childcare have more developed reading and writing skills, and are better prepared for school. This further highlights the importance of the Government’s Closing the Gap target of ensuring access to early childhood education for all Indigenous four year olds in remote communities within five years.

Since 2008, two cohorts of Indigenous children aged between six months and five years have been monitored, studying critical factors that influence the early development of Indigenous children.

Many Indigenous mothers surveyed see education as an essential part of giving their child the best possible start in life. When discussing aspirations for their children, a good education was the most common response.

Most mothers want their child to finish high school or continue into higher education, with many saying that a good education meant their child could get a good job, and would not have to rely on Government benefits.

The study also found that families had positive views of income management. Of the respondents who were affected by income management, 73 per cent said it was ‘very good’ or ‘good’ for their families, and 65 per cent said they thought income management had brought positive changes to their communities.

The Australian Government provides $3 million each year to support the Footprints in Time study, which is an important part of the Government’s Indigenous Early Childhood package.

Since 2008 governments have committed unprecedented investments to help close the gap in Indigenous disadvantage, including $564.4 million over six years under the National Partnership Agreements on Indigenous Early Childhood Development.

View the Footprints in Time report.