Chapter 1 – Unlocking capacity and empowering choices

Achieving better higher education outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will require action to increase the supply of people ready and able to participate in higher education. While university may not be the chosen pathway of everyone, it is important that everyone has this as an option.

Throughout consultations the Panel heard from many students about how supportive and proud their parents were of them for going to university. But even with this support, there are significant personal and community factors such as a lack of encouragement from educators, lack of aspiration and lack of community understanding and support to take on higher education that can act as disincentives to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people choosing to enrol in university. Inadequate information about financial and other support for potential Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students can also discourage university enrolment.

By addressing these and other disincentives, the Panel believes that more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can be supported to a point where they have a real option to go to university.

Governments and the higher education sector must work closely with institutions that have the greatest potential to develop and supply Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander candidates for higher education to provide potential students with the information and targeted support they need to make university a realistic option.

The Panel identified school students, the workforce and the VET sector as the key groups from which significantly greater numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people could and should be entering the higher education system.