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BSL’s Life Chances Report

Thursday, 25th February 2010 at 4:06 pm
Staff Reporter
Twenty years on, family income still determines educational success in Australia, according to the latest report from the Brotherhood of St Laurence.

Thursday, 25th February 2010
at 4:06 pm
Staff Reporter



BSL’s Life Chances Report
Thursday, 25th February 2010 at 4:06 pm

The latest data from the Brotherhood of St Laurence’s Life Chances Study indicates that reduced family income remains a major barrier to social inclusion in education.

This latest release in the twenty-year study, which has tracked the experiences of one hundred and thirty-eight young people since birth, discusses the impact of socioeconomic disadvantage on their life chances.

The report found that ninety-eight per cent of 18 year-olds surveyed in high-income families had completed VCE, and 86 per cent in medium-income families. In contrast only 44 per cent of 18 year-olds in low-income families had done the same.

However, 15 per cent of young people from low-income families had completed other Year 12 qualifications, and 15 per cent were still at school planning to complete Year 12. A quarter of young people from low-income families (26%) had left school early, but no 18 year-olds from high-income families had left school without finishing VCE.

Tony Nicholson, the Executive Director of the Brotherhood of St Laurence says the study reinforces that family resources are strongly connected to school retention and academic achievement.

He says where families lack the necessary resources, extra support needs to be provided by schools, universities and other training organisations to achieve a socially inclusive outcome.

Based on the study, the Brotherhood has made a number of recommendations to policymakers including:

To improve Year 12 retention rates for students:

  • Actively engage less academic students in applied learning courses.
  • Support those on low incomes by addressing school costs such as textbooks and subject fees, and also with adequate family income support.
  • Promote a healthy balance between students’ paid work and study.

To increase further education and training for young people:

  • Acknowledge that for some disadvantaged young people, fees for TAFE courses are already a barrier which a loan scheme is unlikely to overcome.
  • Monitor the impact of the proposed TAFE fee increases.
  • Ensure support services and career counselling for TAFE students are well resourced to promote course completion and appropriate pathways.

The new report ‘Turning 18: pathways and plans’ by Janet Taylor and Nina Gee was being launched at the Brotherhood of St Laurence in conjunction with a seminar ‘Social Engagement and Life Chances: challenges for policy and practice’.

To obtain a copy of the summary or full report click go to

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