All students Australia-wide must complete Year 10 of study. After Year 10 and until they turn 17, students must be either in school full-time, in approved education or training eg TAFE, traineeship or apprenticeship, or in full-time paid employment.
The minimum school leaving age has been raised to age 17 to ensure that school leavers have the opportunity to maximise their preparation for further education, training, employment or a combination of these.
There is compelling Australian and international research which demonstrates that people with higher levels of schooling are more likely to make a successful transition to further education, training, or work. The research also demonstrates that early school leavers are two and a half times more likely to be unemployed, earn lower wages and have poorer quality of life outcomes; and that those who do not leave school early generally enjoy enhanced life choices and better economic and social outcomes.
Exemptions will only be granted where the principal considers that the student is a suitable candidate to complete his or her education through an apprenticeship or traineeship, that the student has written permission from his / her parents for this to occur, and that the employer agrees to notify the Department of Education and Training in writing through the school principal if the apprenticeship or traineeship is abandoned or cancelled before the student turns 17.