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Education key to improving Indigenous health and life expectancy

Posted on:Tuesday, 9th August 2011


For immediate release: Tuesday 9 August 2011

Collaboration between education and health systems is necessary to break the cycle of disadvantage for many Indigenous Australians, experts will tell delegates to the Australian Council for Educational Research conference on Tuesday 9 August.

Professors Jonathan Carapetis and Sven Silburn of the Menzies School of Health Research will speak on the factors influencing educational outcomes for Indigenous students and their implications for planning and practice in the Northern Territory.

Speaking ahead of the conference, Professor Carapetis said there was a strong link between health and education.

“Increased educational levels are associated with better health, social and economic outcomes across all populations,” Professor Carapetis said.

“Improving the current poor levels of school participation and academic achievement of Indigenous children is the most important step towards breaking the inter-generational cycle of poor health and disadvantage of Indigenous Australians,” he said.

Professor Silburn agreed, and said that improving education for Indigenous children in their early years would reduce the likelihood of their developing chronic disease as adults, as well as reduce infant mortality rates and increase life expectancy for future generations.

“Children’s early education experiences shape their brain growth and the development of the skills they need throughout their lives,” Professor Silburn said.

“Better education also contributes to better health through improved income, health literacy and health behaviours, and greater access to health care when needed,” he said.

Professor Silburn said that significant long-term investment was needed to support families and communities in strengthening early child development, improving the effectiveness of school education and creating new training pathways into employment.

“Education is one of the most effective means presently available to governments for eradicating poverty and advancing societal wellbeing. It is the key to closing the gap within a generation,” Professor Silburn said.

The ACER Research Conference 2011, on the theme Indigenous Education: Pathways to success, takes place in Darwin from 7 to 9 August.

Further information is available from


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Louise Reynolds, Corporate Publicity and Communications Manager

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Related links

Research Conference 2011 web page

Conference Paper: Key factors influencing educational outcomes for Indigenous students and their implications for planning and practice in the NT

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