Governments, schools, and communities throughout Australia are working to improve school attendance among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students using numerous strategies. Currently, however, little is known about the effectiveness of these strategies and the key factors which underpin programs and strategies which are successful.

This report forms a key element of a larger project (the SCSEEC Successful School Attendance Strategies Evidence-based Project) designed to fill the current gap in the evidence by bringing together published data on effectiveness with the on-the-ground experiences of schools and communities who have been successful in improving the attendance of their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

Reviewing literature from Australia and internationally, this report has found evidence for the effectiveness of 9 types of strategies for improving school attendance:

  • engagement programs, including extracurricular and out-of-school activities
  • literacy and numeracy programs
  • whole-of-school approaches
  • nutrition programs
  • incentive programs
  • parental consequences for poor attendance
  • transport
  • attendance monitoring programs
  • school/family/community partnerships.

This report provides an overview of the different programs reviewed, along with the main findings for the programs with respect to student attendance. It describes each strategy, the reasoning behind the strategy (for example, what barriers to school attendance it tries to address) and provides detailed examples of programs within each strategy. Where available, the key mechanisms that make the programs and strategies successful are also discussed.

In addition, the report also discusses key government policies and highlights the ways in which jurisdictions and schools have gone about trying to improve attendance.