Participation in school education

Students with disability have the right to access and participate in education on the same basis as students without disability. They also have the right to be educated in an environment free from bullying, harassment or exclusion (Australia’s Disability Strategy 2021–2031).

Accessibility and inclusion strategies have supported increased secondary school completion for some students with disability. However, people with disability have been more likely to leave school at younger ages and have lower levels of educational attainment (AIHW 2022).

Reducing the gaps in educational attainment between people with and without disability is essential to improve lifetime outcomes for people with disability (Australia’s Disability Strategy 2021–2031).

Year 10 completion

In Australia, it is mandatory for young people to complete year 10 or an approved equivalent and to continue full-time education, employment or training (or a combination) until at least age 17 under the National Youth Participation Requirement (ACARA 2011; SCRGSP 2022).

This measure is intended to track the proportion of students with disability who complete Year 10 or equivalent. Due to a lack of data available for reporting on students specifically, the measure is reported here as:

  • proportion of people with disability who completed Year 10 (or equivalent).

The desired population outcome for this measure is to see an increase in young people with disability completing secondary school. Reporting is restricted to people aged 20–64.

Population measure: Proportion of people with disability who completed year 10 (or equivalent)

Desired outcome: Increase in the proportion

Data source: ABS SDAC

Results at baseline: 2018

  • In 2018, more than 8 in 10 (86%) people with disability, aged 20–64, had completed Year 10 (or equivalent).
  • The proportion of people with disability aged 20–64 who had completed Year 10 (or equivalent) consistently increased over the period from 2012 to 2018 (Figure 6.2). It rose 3 percentage points between 2012 and 2015 (from 79% to 82%) and a further 4 percentage points between 2015 and 2018 (from 82% to 86%).
  • In 2018, the Year 10 (or equivalent) completion rate for males with disability was lower than that for females with disability (84% and 87%, respectively).
  • Rates of Year 10 (or equivalent) completion by age group differed between the younger age groups and those aged 45–64. Those aged 20–24 and 25–44 had similarly high completion rates (91% and 90%, respectively). The rate for those aged 45–64 (83%) was 8 percentage points lower than that for those aged 20–24.
  • Rates of Year 10 (or equivalent) completion varied by the severity of disability. People with severe or profound disability were less likely to have completed Year 10 (or equivalent) (80%) than people with other disability (87%).

Latest results

Updated data are not yet available for this measure. New data from the 2022 ABS SDAC are expected to be available in the first half of 2024 and included in the 2024 annual report.

Things to consider when interpreting results

  • Data for this measure are restricted to people with disability aged 20–64 living in households, excluding those who never attended school.

Figure 6.2: Proportion of people with disability aged 20–64 who completed year 10 (or equivalent), 2012, 2015 and 2018

These data show the proportion of people with disability aged 20–64 who completed Year 10 (or equivalent). Data from 2012 to 2018 are used. In 2018, the proportion of people with disability who had completed Year 10 was 85.5%, compared with 79.4% in 2012.

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics – Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC) | Data source overview

For the latest data and breakdowns of the data, see Australia’s Disability Strategy Outcomes Framework | Year 10 completion.

Year 12 completion

A key measure of educational achievement is completing Year 12 or an equivalent non‑school qualification (including VET qualifications). Year 12 completion is not mandatory in Australia; however, those who do complete it are more likely to participate in further education or training, and transition successfully into the workforce (ABS 2011).

This measure is intended to track the proportion of students with disability who complete Year 12 or equivalent. Due to a lack of data available for reporting on students specifically, the measure is reported here as:

  • proportion of people with disability who completed Year 12 (or equivalent).

The desired population outcome of this measure is to see an increase in young people with disability completing secondary school. Reporting is restricted to people aged 20–64.

Population measure: Proportion of people with disability who completed year 12 (or equivalent)

Desired outcome: Increase in the proportion

Data source: ABS SDAC

Results at baseline: 2018

  • In 2018, more than 2 in 5 (45%) people with disability, aged 20–64, had completed Year 12 (or equivalent).
  • The Year 12 (or equivalent) completion rate has consistently increased over the 3 reporting periods from 2012 to 2018 (Figure 6.3). It rose 5 percentage points between 2012 and 2015 (from 37% to 42%) and a further 4 percentage points between 2015 and 2018 (from 42% to 46%).
  • Year 12 (or equivalent) completion rates were a little lower among males with disability than among females with disability (42% and 49%, respectively).
  • Rates of Year 12 (or equivalent) completion varied between the younger age groups and those aged 45–64. The age groups 20–24 and 25–44 had the highest completion rates (67% and 58%, respectively). The rate for those aged 45–64 (37%) was 30 percentage points lower than that for 20–24-year-olds.
  • In 2018, completion rates varied by the severity of disability; 41% of those with severe or profound disability had completed Year 12 (or equivalent) compared with 47% of those with other disability.

Latest results

Updated data are not yet available for this measure. New data from the 2022 ABS SDAC are expected to be available in the first half of 2024 and included in the 2024 annual report.

Things to consider when interpreting results

Data are restricted to people with disability aged 20–64 living in households, excluding those who never attended school.

Figure 6.3: Proportion of people with disability aged 20–64 who completed Year 12 (or equivalent), 2012, 2015 and 2018

These data show the proportion of people with disability (aged 20–64) who completed Year 12 (or equivalent). Data from 2012 to 2018 are used. In 2018, the proportion of people with disability who had completed Year 12 was 45.5%, compared with 36.8% in 2012.

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics – Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC) | Data source overview

For the latest data and breakdowns of the data, see Australia’s Disability Strategy Outcomes Framework | Year 12 completion.

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