Review of Support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Secondary Students Studying Away from Home

Many of us are familiar with issues facing our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander secondary students, their families and communities in studying away from home. This review offers a sound analysis of these issues providing data and suggestions – and highlights the gaps to be addressed.


Both the complexities and challenges of supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to study away from home are explored in this Review commissioned by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet in collaboration with other Commonwealth departments.


The Study Away Review is presented as a summary of research through a literature review, analysis of available statistical date, submissions made to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs (HoRSCIA) and consultations with stakeholders.


The need to study away from home is in most instances due to restricted access to secondary education within community. Transitioning from home to studying away presents problems ranging from lack of preparation because families and communities are uncertain and uninformed about boarding through to complexities in applying for ABSTUDY and inappropriate arrangements for student travel.


The report examines these issues and others under four pillars:

  • preparation
  • travel
  • in-school and accommodation support, and
  • family and community engagement.


Each of these pillars outlines issues arising from the data collection and offers case study summaries of successful practice.

Overall the report offers 7 gaps and areas that need addressing:

  1. early and better preparation for students and families
  2. improving the ABSTUDY process
  3. protecting students when they travel
  4. acknowledging additional costs required for school and boarding
  5. understanding the differing boarding/school provisions
  6. addressing community – school/boarding engagement
  7. building family and community capacity to participate in children’s education

While this report addresses Phase 1 of the Review, other work is being carried out across several agencies to develop strategies for issues raised. Phase 2 aims to identify and implement solutions.


Dr Marie Wood

Director Boarding Australia

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