Notes on the data: Families

Aboriginal children in Aboriginal families where the mother has low educational attainment, 2021


Policy context:  Strong relationships between education and health outcomes exist in many countries, favouring the survival and health of children born to educated parents, especially mothers; but the pathways are culturally and historically complex and vary between and within countries [1,2,3]. A lack of successful educational experiences of parents may lead to low aspirations for their children; and may be related to parents’ attitudes, their ability to manage the complex relationships which surround a child’s health and education, and their capacity to control areas of their own lives [4,5,6,7].

At the 2021 Census, there were 92,843 Aboriginal children aged less than 15 years in families where the mother had low educational attainment, or 35.0% of these families. The proportion for the whole population was 14.1% [8]


  1. Cleland JG. Maternal education and child survival: further evidence and explanations. In: Caldwell J et al. (Eds.), What we know about the health transition (Vol. 1). Canberra: Health Transition Centre, Australian National University; 1990.
  2. Ewald D, Boughton B. Maternal education and child health: an exploratory investigation in a Central Australian Aboriginal Community. (Occasional paper series, no. 7). Casuarina, NT: Cooperative Research Centre for Aboriginal and Tropical Health; 2002.
  3. Hobcraft J. Women's education, child welfare and child survival: a review of the evidence. Health Transition Review 1993; 3(2):159-73.
  4. Graetz B. Socio-economic status in education research and policy. In: Ainley J et al. (Eds.), Socio-economic status and school education. Canberra: Department of Education, Employment and Training (DEET) and Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER); 1995.
  5. Williams T, Long M, Carpenter P, Hayden M. Year 12 in the 1980's: report of a study supported by the Commonwealth EIP program. Canberra: AGPS; 1993.
  6. Considine G, Zappala G. Factors influencing the educational performance of students from disadvantaged backgrounds. In: Eardley T, Bradbury B (Eds.), Competing visions: refereed Proceedings of the National Social Policy Conference 2001. (SPRC Report 1/02). Sydney: Social Policy Research Centre, University of New South Wales; 2002.
  7. Ryan C, Sartbayeva S. Young Australians and social inclusion. Canberra: Social Policy Evaluation, Analysis, and Research (SPEAR) Centre, Australian National University; 2011.
  8. PHIDU ( based on the ABS Census of Population and Housing, August 2021

Notes:  The data presented are of Aboriginal children aged less than 15 years living in families where the female parent’s highest level of schooling was year 10 or below, or where the female parent did not attend school, expressed as a proportion of all Aboriginal children aged less than 15 years


Geography:  Data available by Indigenous Area, Primary Health Network, Quintile of socioeconomic outcomes (based on IRSEO) and Remoteness Area


Numerator:  Aboriginal children in families where the mother has low educational attainment


Denominator:  Total Aboriginal children under 15 years


Detail of analysis:  Per cent


Source:  Compiled by PHIDU based on the ABS Census of Population and Housing, August 2021 (unpublished data).


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