The Prime Minister meeting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff, February 2017.
The Remote School Attendance Strategy (RSAS) is a key initiative of the Australian Government designed to lift school attendance in selected remote communities across Australia. The strategy commenced in 2014.
COAG includes school attendance as a key Closing the Gap measure and school attendance is a critical part of educational attainment and addressing disadvantage. School attendance and better literacy and numeracy skills improves the life outcomes of children.
Research indicates that lower levels of attendance among Indigenous students account for about 20 per cent of the achievement gap in maths, reading and science between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students. Children who miss school experience significant disruption to their education. A student who misses more than one full day per week on average would lose two years of education over a 10-year period.
In 2016–17, the Department worked with providers, schools, communities and government education agencies to implement activities for 14,500 students, employing around 480 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Schools covered by the RSAS have a history of poor student attendance. This is often a symptom of other issues in remote and very remote communities. There have been increases in attendance rates in some of the schools, with the greatest average improvements experienced in schools in Queensland.
As at Semester 1 in 2016, approximately 56 per cent of schools under the RSAS had increased average attendance rates compared with attendance rates in Semester 1 in 2013.