Closing the gap on Indigenous school completion needs culture of respect

Practical ways to overcome Indigenous disadvantage are the focus of three new resource sheets released today by the Closing the Gap Clearinghouse. Experts in the fields of education and health were commissioned by the Clearinghouse to write these resource sheets, said Dr Fadwa Al-Yaman, of the AIHWs Social and Indigenous Group.

The resource sheet, Closing the school completion gap, written by Sue Helme and Stephen Lamb from the Centre of Research on Education Systems at the University of Melbourne, examines how school completion rates can be improved among Indigenous students.

‘The resource sheet shows that school completion rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students are well below the rates for their non-Indigenous counterparts,’ Dr Al-Yaman said.

‘One of the most effective ways of improving school completion rates among Indigenous students is to ensure a school culture acknowledges and supports Indigenous students and families.’

A second resource sheet, Anti-tobacco programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, by Dr Rowena Ivers, from the Graduate School of Medicine at the University of Wollongong, looks at the most effective ways to prevent smoking among Indigenous Australians.

It shows tobacco use is a major preventable contributor to the life expectancy gap between Indigenous Australians and non-Indigenous Australians, mostly due to high rates of cardiovascular disease, respiratory diseases and other diseases related to tobacco.

‘This resource sheet discusses options for proven tobacco control interventions. These include interventions by community health organisations, such as nicotine replacement therapy, promotion of smoke-free environments and quit groups,’ Dr Al-Yaman said.

The third resource sheet, Teacher and school leader quality and sustainability, by Professor Emeritus Bill Mulford of the Faculty of Education at the University of Tasmania, examines how Australian schools can achieve sustainable teacher and school leader quality.

These three resource sheets have been prepared for the Closing the Gap Clearinghouse, an online source of research and information on what works to close the gap on Indigenous disadvantage.

‘The Clearinghouse focuses on what works to overcome the problems rather than on outlining the nature or extent of the problems,’ Dr Al-Yaman said.

The Closing the Gap Clearinghouse is a Council of Australian Governments initiative jointly funded by all Australian governments. It is being delivered by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare in collaboration with the Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Canberra, 28 January 2011

Further information: Dr Fadwa Al-Yaman, AIHW, tel. (02) 6244 1146 mob. 0407 068 033

For media copies of the report: Publications Officer 02 6244 1032