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Education and work

Student attendance and retention

In 2021, among students in Years 1 to 10:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students attended school 79% of the time—this is just under 4 days a week on average (Figure EW 5a).
  • Attendance among Indigenous students varied by state and territory—from 62% of the time in the Northern Territory to nearly 85% in Tasmania and Victoria (Figure EW 5b).
  • The attendance rates of Indigenous students were lower than that of non‑Indigenous students—79% compared with 92% respectively (Figure EW 5c; ACARA 2021).

School attendance among Indigenous Australians in Years 1 to 6 decreased slightly in the period between 2014 and 2021 (86% and 83%, 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 2021 were:

  • 59% for Year 7/8 to Year 12. That is, 59% of students who started secondary school in 2016/2017 (depending on state/territory) remained in the schooling system until Year 12 in 2021.
  • 61% for Year 10 to Year 12. That is, 61% of the students who started Year 10 in 2019 remained in the schooling system until Year 12 in 2021 (ABS 2020) (Figure EW 6).

The difference in apparent retention rates between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students decreased from 32 to 26 percentage points for Years 7/8 to 12 and from 27 to 22 percentage points for Year 10 to Year 12 between 2011 and 2021 (Figure EW 6).