Release type: Joint Media Release


Have your say on Indigenous higher education


Senator the Hon Chris Evans
Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations

Australians are encouraged to have their say on Indigenous participation in higher education, research and the professions as part of the Review of Higher Education Access and Outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People.

Minister for Tertiary Education Senator Chris Evans and Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research Senator Kim Carr today launched public consultations for the Review, saying the Government recognises that this participation is well below acceptable levels.

“I look forward to hearing from the higher education sector and broader community on how they view the current outcomes, on what’s working and what they think needs to change,” Senator Evans said.

“Higher education is central to building the capacity of Indigenous communities and facilitating the participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the professional life of the nation.”

The number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people benefiting from a higher education has improved in recent years, but due to increasing rates of participation by non-Indigenous students, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander proportion of total students has remained unchanged at about 1.3 per cent.

“Only 0.5 per cent of students who complete PhDs in Australia are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander,” Senator Carr said.

“This highlights a need for strategic investment to support talented Indigenous people to pursue research degrees and research careers.”

A panel was appointed in April to lead the review, chaired by Professor Larissa Behrendt, Professor of Law and Indigenous Studies at the University of Technology, Sydney.

The panel includes Professor Steve Larkin, Chair of the Indigenous Higher Education Advisory Council, Mr Robert Griew, Associate Secretary of the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, and Ms Patricia Kelly, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research.

The panel is examining the participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the higher education sector, both as students and as staff.

It will provide advice to the Government on measures to improve outcomes for students, researchers and academic and non-academic staff.

Expert analyses are being commissioned to inform the review.

Research will focus on approaches to increasing participation, retention and completion of Indigenous students. It will also focus on the role of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff in universities, particularly in academic and research roles, and the recognition of Indigenous knowledges within the academy.

Submissions close on Friday 18 November 2011. Information on how to make a submission can be found at: