Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Master of Education


Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Supervisor

Dr John Williams


Over the past decade there have been dramatic and unprecedented changes in post compulsory education, with an increase of over 40% for year 12 retention rates to 76.6% in 1992 and huge expansion of year 11 and 12 vocational education and training programs. However, for Aboriginal past compulsory age students, the picture is very different. In 1993 the year 12 Aboriginal retention rate was only 24.48% or 982 students (Australia wide), and by 1996 only 10% of the indigenous 15 and older population had any post school qualification, compared to 35% of the total population. Only 34% of West Australian Indigenous 15 to 24 year olds were employed compared with 56% of the total population. Aboriginal students not participating in education have been the subject of many reports, reviews and studies, but few of these have looked at Aboriginal vocational education and training and even fewer at the Aboriginal students own perception of education. The purpose of this study is to explore and describe the experience of Aboriginal students who have been involved in secondary school vocational education and training programs at Wongutha Christian Aboriginal Parent-directed School (Wongutha CAPS) to ascertain particular experiences that affected the students in their post school situations. Apart from the value of sharing the experiences of Aboriginal students, it is anticipated that the conclusions of this study will: help identify methods of training that have been effective for Aboriginal students, help identify particular courses that more readily articulate into further training and employment, help identify the specific needs of Aboriginal vocational education and training students, help identify factors which have led to poor year 11 and 12 retention levels, and poor participation rates in employment, assist educators in developing vocational education and training curriculum that is relevant to the needs of Aboriginal students, and deleting from vocational education and training programs material that is not relevant. This study provides educators with a student's "inside view” of vocational education and training experiences. The study involves post secondary Aboriginals who participated in secondary vocational education and training programs at Wongutha CAPS for a period of six months or longer at some time within the past nine years. The study utilises a phenomenological methodology with data collection by interview.