Results of the 2016 Census show that, at a national level, the preschool participation rate among Indigenous children has increased substantially over the past decade. Furthermore, preschool participation rates for Indigenous and non-Indigenous children have converged over this period, most markedly in the Northern Territory. Preschool participation rates among Indigenous children varied between and within jurisdictions, but (based on analysis at the fairly broad geographical level of Indigenous region) increased in all but a few regions.
While preschool participation rates among Indigenous children have generally increased, children in relatively disadvantaged circumstances, who might gain the most from a preschool service that meets their needs, are less likely to be attending. Rates of preschool participation were markedly lower among children (whether Indigenous or non-Indigenous) living in households with no employed parent, compared with children living in households where a parent was employed. This may be partly because parents who are not employed have less need for the child care provided by preschool. However, limited financial resources and various other factors are likely to affect these families’ ability to access preschool.