Document Type



Institute for the Service Professions, Edith Cowan University

Place of Publication

Mount Lawley, Western Australia


Institute for the Service Professions


Institute for the Service Professions, Edith Cowan University

Swan Education District

Grant Number

305 2010


Gray, J., & Beresford, Q. (2001). Alienation from school among Aboriginal students. Mount Lawley, Australia: Edith Cowan University, Institute for the Service Professions.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this document may contain references to people who have died.


It is difficult to overstate the depth of the educational disadvantage which continues to be experienced by Aboriginal young people in the Swan District. While encouraging signs can be found in the genuinely positive attitudes towards school among many of the Aboriginal students who are regular attenders, it is still the case that considerable differences in educational outcomes between Aborigines and non-Aborigines remain.

For example:

• Only one of the students interviewed was found to be undertaking a full Tertiary Entrance Examination course in the district during the Year 2000.

• Few students (especially boys) remain at school to study Year 12.

• Absenteeism is a significant and complex problem.

• A significant number of students drop out altogether with no follow-up tracking.

• Involvement of Aboriginal parents in schools is low.

The purpose of this research was to examine the underlying causes of these poor outcomes. Schools are in a difficult position to address the extent of this educational disadvantage. Many of the issues which form barriers to Aboriginal participation and achievement lie outside the direct control of schools, forming part of the wider socio-economic and historic disadvantage experienced by Aborigines. Yet, there is considerable scope for schools to improve the educational outcomes of Aboriginal young people. However, realising the full potential of schools to improve educational outcomes for this group will require a greater focus on school planning and staff training and the development of stronger partnerships with a range of community agencies.

Access Rights



Article Location