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By almost all socioeconomic indicators, Australia’s Indigenous young people are the most disadvantaged group in the nation.

The educational outcomes of Indigenous children are closely related to their opportunities for further education and employment. Although the retention rates of Indigenous children are slowly increasing, the most recent statistics reveal that 3 in 4 Indigenous people over the age of 15 reported leaving school before Year 12. [1, 2]

A lack of education can also lead to ongoing health problems, crime, high risk alcohol consumption, and financial and psychological stress. [3]

Early intervention and support in literacy and numeracy skills is vital to keep Indigenous children engaged in education. Sadly, a large majority of Indigenous children in regional and remote areas struggle to read and write, and fall well below the national literacy benchmarks.

There is a significant gap in the English literacy rates of Indigenous and non- Indigenous people in Australia, which the Aboriginal Literacy Foundation is working to minimise. Non- Indigenous students out-perform Indigenous students in benchmark tests for reading, writing, spelling and numeracy in Years 3, 5 and 7. By year 9, the gap has widened, particularly for numeracy. [4]

Research also shows that Indigenous homes have fewer books and educational resources. This is particularly an issue in remote communities, where almost two thirds of children cannot access a library. [1]These factors are clearly linked to children’s achievements at school and in the development of English literacy skills.

The primary beneficiaries of the Aboriginal Literacy Foundation’s programs are Indigenous children aged between 8 and 16 years.  They are identified by their school or community as some of the most disadvantaged Indigenous students experiencing major learning difficulties. Common characteristics of these communities include low levels of education, high unemployment rates, low income, high dependence on government support, and poor health and nutrition.  The youth are disengaged in education, with schools in the region experiencing low attendance rates, as well as low literacy and numeracy levels.

The priority of the Aboriginal Literacy Foundation is to provide ongoing literacy programs and opportunities for Indigenous young people through education and community based initiatives such as the Books for Learning Program, Literacy & Heritage Camps, Literacy Resource Packs and Support Services, Literacy Tutoring and Testing, Research, and Evaluation

References:
Creative Spirits 2013, Aboriginal Educationhttp://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/education/
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2011, Census of Population and Housing: Characteristics of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2011http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/2076.0main+features302011
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2010, The Health and Welfare of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, Oct 2010 –http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/lookup/4704.0Chapter365Oct+2010
National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) 2013, National Reportshttp://www.nap.edu.au/results-and-reports/national-reports.html