Notes on the data: Aboriginal education

Government-funded vocational education and training subjects undertaken by Aboriginal students, 2015


Policy context:   Vocational education and training (VET) refers to post-compulsory education and training (excluding degree and higher level programs delivered by further education institutions) which provides people with occupational or work-related knowledge and skills [1]. VET also includes programs which provide the basis for subsequent vocational programs. VET qualifications include certificates, diplomas, trade certificates, traineeships and other qualifications awarded by Technical and Further Education (TAFE) colleges and other training providers [2]. VET programs may be government-funded, or delivered on a fee-for-service basis by public or private providers. For school-aged participants, VET programs offer industry-specific skills and pathways to further study and initial employment opportunities [2].

Participation in VET programs is higher among the Indigenous population than the non-Indigenous population. For younger Indigenous Australians, VET is principally an alternative to schooling as a means for continuing education and training, while for younger non-Indigenous Australians, it complements twelve years of schooling [3].

In 2010, changes to VET FEE-HELP policy saw regulations for VET FEE-HELP providers softened. This led to inappropriate and unethical practices by some providers, including aggressive marketing targeting vulnerable people, with little or no risk of repercussions. Policy was updated in 2015 to address the issues and protect the interests of students. The effectiveness of these measures is yet unknown [4].


  1. Naidu R, Stanwick J, Frazer K. Glossary of VET, National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER), Adelaide. 2013.
  2. Gørgens T, Ryan C. The impact of additional educational qualifications for early school leavers. Canberra: Department of Education, Science and Training; 2006.
  3. Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA) Taskforce on Indigenous Education. Exploring multiple pathways for Indigenous students: discussion paper. Carlton, Victoria: Curriculum Corporation for MCEETYA; 2001.
  4. Noonan P. VET funding in Australia: Background trends and future directions. Mitchell Institute, Melbourne. 2016.



Vocational education and training (VET) data includes all VET activity delivered in Australia to Australian residents by government providers (TAFE institutes, Universities and other government providers), community education providers, enterprise providers, private training providers and schools.


Funding source

Vet activity is reported as government-funded if the activity received Commonwealth and state funding, and privately-funded if domestic fee-for-service. Funding source is attributed irrespective of VET provider.


Geography: Data available by Indigenous Area, Indigenous Quintiles and Indigenous Remoteness Areas


Numerator:  Government-funded vocational education and training subjects undertaken by Aboriginal students


Denominator:  Total vocational education and training subjects undertaken by Aboriginal students


Detail of analysis:   Per cent


Source:  Compiled by PHIDU based on data from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research Ltd., 2015; and the Aboriginal ERP (non-ABS) as at 30 June 2015, based on data developed by Prometheus Information Pty Ltd, under a contract with the Australian Government Department of Health.


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