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Education and work

Student attendance and retention

In 2019, among students in Years 1 to 10:

  • Indigenous students attended school 82% of the time—this is just over 4 days a week on average (Figure EW 5a).
  • Attendance among Indigenous students varied by state and territory—from 63% of the time in the Northern Territory to 87% in Tasmania (Figure EW 5b).
  • The attendance rates of Indigenous students were lower than that of non‑Indigenous students—82% compared with 92% respectively (Figure EW 5c; ACARA 2020).

School attendance among Indigenous Australians in Years 1 to 6 remained at similar levels in the period between 2014 and 2019 (86% and 85%, respectively) (Figure EW 5c).


Apparent retention rates are estimates of how many students stayed at school from one year level to another.

For Indigenous students, the apparent retention rates in high school in 2019 were:

  • 59% for Year 7/8 to Year 12. That is, 59% of students who started secondary school in 2014/2015 (depending on state/territory) remained in the schooling system until Year 12 in 2019.
  • 60% for Year 10 to Year 12. That is, 60% of the students who started Year 10 in 2017 remained in the schooling system until Year 12 in 2019 (ABS 2020) (Figure EW 6).

The difference in apparent retention rates between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students decreased from 32 to 27 percentage points for Years 7/8 to 12 and from 27 to 23 percentage points for Year 10 to Year 12 between 2011 and 2019 (Figure EW 6).