Developing Measures of Population Mobility Amongst Indigenous Primary School Students

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Abstract

In the present era of evidence-based policy making in Indigenous affairs, where the monitoring and closure
of socioeconomic gaps dominates the federal agenda, data have become paramount. Yet with regard to
one of the cornerstones of the Labor government’s ‘Closing the Gaps’ initiative—Indigenous education—
the reliability of the evidence base has been repeatedly called into question. Further, existing educational
administrative data, as they are conventionally reported, fail to elucidate some of the key structural drivers
of Indigenous educational disadvantage. For example, reported enrolment and attendance data often
present an incomplete picture of Indigenous engagement with the formal education sector because they are
not collected or reported in ways that adequately illuminate the realities of Indigenous temporary mobility
practices. Drawing upon textual analysis and interviews with relevant public servants, this paper summarises
administrative data management systems in five State and Territory public education departments, as the
basis for evaluating the relationship between existing data and the realities of student mobility. It argues
that both enrolment and attendance collections have the potential to render these movements more visible
to, and instructive for, educators and policy makers responsible for designing, implementing and evaluating
the delivery of formal education programs to highly mobile Indigenous students. To this end, it canvasses a
range of potential reforms. The paper concludes by calling for significant reconceptualising and adaptation
from both practitioners and policy makers in order to leverage enrolment and attendance data as more
meaningful evidence when evaluating Indigenous engagement with formal education systems.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherCentre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research
Commissioning bodyMinisterial Council for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs
ISBN (Print)0731549724
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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