Preschool participation of Aboriginal children

Notes on the data: Aboriginal Education

Preschool participation, children aged 3 to 4 years, 2016


Policy context: Research has shown that positive educational and life outcomes for children, particularly those from more disadvantaged backgrounds is linked to participation in a quality preschool program (Rosier and McDonald 2011). Participation in high quality preschool supports school readiness as children were found to perform better at school with these benefits persisting over time. Children who attended preschool were found to outperform those who did not across all elements of national assessment results for Year 3 students, they include numeracy, reading, spelling, writing and grammar (Department of Education and Training 2017).

For vulnerable Indigenous children, quality early childhood education can positively impact on their outcomes at school. Data from the Longitudinal Study for Indigenous Children revealed that early childhood education may promote a range of cognitive and developmental outcomes (Arcos Holzinger & Biddle 2015) similarly, other research indicated that Indigenous children who participated in early childhood education had better social and developmental skills which facilitated their transition into school (Kellard & Paddon 2016).

At the 2016 Census,  42.4 percent of 3 to 4 year old Aboriginal children in Australia participated in preschool education, an increase from 37.1 percent at the 2011 Census.


  1. Arcos Holzinger, L. & Biddle, N. 2015. The relationship between early childhood education and care (ECEC) and the outcomes of Indigenous children: evidence from the Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children (LSIC), CAEPR Working Paper No. 103/2015, Centre for Aboriginal and Economic Policy Research School of Social Sciences, ANU, accessed 9 April 2018. Available from:
  2. Department of Education and Training. How is the Government supporting access to preschool education? Factsheet, July 2017, accessed 9 April 2018. Available from:
  3. Rosier K. & McDonald, M. Promoting positive education and care transitions for children. Child Family Community Australia Resource Sheet, November 2011. Australian Institute of Family Studies, accessed 9 Aoril 2018. Available from:
  4. Kellard K. & Paddon, H. Indigenous participation and Early Childhood Education and Care - Qualitiative Case Studies. Social Research Centre. Report prepared for Department of Education and Training. accessed 9 April 2018. Available from:

Notes: The data presented are the number of 3 to 4 year old Aboriginal children attending preschool, as a proportion of all Aboriginal children aged 3 to 4 years. Note that percentages may be more than 100% due to the ABS’ randomisation of both the numerator and denominator for confidentiality purposes.


Geography: Data available by Indigenous Areas


Numerator: Aboriginal children aged 3 to 4 years who participated in preschool education


Denominator: Total Aboriginal Population, 2016 Usual Resident Population aged 3 to 4 years


Source: Compiled by PHIDU based on the ABS Census of Population and Housing, August 2016.


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