Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Higher Education

The Australian Government seeks to ensure that all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have the desire and capability to participate in higher education are able to do so and are supported to succeed.

The Department of Education and Training is the policy lead on Indigenous higher education. The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet is responsible for administering programmes that support the Government’s policy objectives in this area. For more information about the Government’s programmes to support Indigenous higher education please go to http://www.dpmc.gov.au/indigenous-affairs/about/children-and-schooling-programme

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Higher Education Advisory Council

The Government’s Indigenous higher education policy has been informed by advice from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Higher Education Advisory Council. The Council was established in 2012 to provide policy advice to the Australian Government on Indigenous participation in higher education.

The Council’s final advice was published on 10 December 2015 and includes recommendations to progress priority areas in Indigenous higher education. The Council also provided working papers on key areas of work, such as:

The Council’s Terms of Reference. outlined the Council’s purpose, approach to membership, functions and processes.

The Council identified five strategic areas where it was best-placed to make a significant contribution, which were informed by the Review of Higher Education Access and Outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People. These are:

  • Broadening the disciplines and professions in which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people participate;
  • Developing an ‘all of institution approach’ to improving  Indigenous access to, and outcomes in, university;
  • Developing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research and academic workforce;
  • Measuring progress towards achieving the Review’s goals; and
  • Financing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander higher education.

The Council’s term finished on 30 June 2015.

In addition to advising the Australian Government, the Council presented a number of awards and scholarships, including:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders and Leaders Awards, which formed a part of the Council’s recognition of those, individually or in groups, who have actively participated in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander higher education over a sustained period.
  • Neville Bonner Memorial Scholarship which was presented to an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander recipient who undertakes Honours in political science or a related field at an Australian university.

The Council’s key presentations, reports and commissioned research are listed below: