Bright future and great lifestyle ahead for the Darling Downs and South West Class of 2022

Published Friday, 18 November, 2022 at 10:30 AM

Minister for Education, Minister for Industrial Relations and Minister for Racing
The Honourable Grace Grace

Communities in the Darling Downs and South West have farewelled graduating Year 12 students on their last day of school, wishing them all the best for the future.

A recent survey shows that future is brighter than ever, with their predecessors, the Class of 2021, recording a major increase in engagement in education, training and employment after graduating.

Education Minister Grace Grace said the 2022 Next Step survey showed graduates from the Darling Downs and South West are kicking goals.

“In the Darling Downs and South West, total engagement in education, training and employment for the most recent graduates has risen to 90.9% in 2022 from 87.6% in 2019,” Ms Grace said.

“This year’s graduating Year 12 students can celebrate their success knowing a bright future of good jobs and a great lifestyle lies ahead of them.

“The Palaszczuk Government is committed to ensuring all Queensland students get a world-class education, regardless of where in our state they live.”

Minister Grace said the survey results show the Palaszczuk Government’s plan for economic recovery from COVID-19 is ensuring students from the Darling Downs and South West have a strong pathway to their future careers.

“The 2022 Next Step survey shows us that young people in the Darling Downs and South West have been highly resilient in their learning during the COVID pandemic, and they’re now in a position to prosper in life after school,” Ms Grace said.

“It’s pleasing to see the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander graduates engaging in education, training or employment in Queensland has continued to improve, up 1.2 percentage points from last year to 76.7%.

“This constitutes an increase of almost 7 percentage points since 2019.

“This is an excellent result and shows the Palaszczuk Government’s continued focus on improving learning outcomes for all Queenslanders is working.

“I’d like to wish Year 12s in the Darling Downs and South West all the best in their future endeavours.

“The last day of your school life is a celebration of all you have achieved at school and an exciting time to think of all that is to come.

“Between university, TAFE or employment, there are many great options for students from the Darling Downs and South West in their first year out of school.”

Participation in employment by last year’s Year 12 students across Queensland increased 3.2 percentage points to above pre-pandemic levels and the highest rate since 2009, while participation in education and training has also reached pre-pandemic levels.

Bachelor Degree studies remain the most popular destination for Queensland Year 12 students after graduating.

Dalby State High School 2021 graduate Jason Maunder is studying an Honours Degree in a Bachelor of Engineering, majoring in Civil Engineering, at UniSQ.

“During my senior years at Dalby State High School, COVID presented multiple challenges in a number of areas including social, emotional and academia,” Jason said.

“The challenges of remote learning, mask mandates and social distancing were diminished by the efforts of the amazing staff at this school,” Jason said.

“The staff at Dalby State High School encouraged me and pushed me to succeed. I am currently working at the Western Downs Regional Council as a Utilities Cadet Technical Officer, specialising in water and wastewater treatment.

“To be honest, I could not have asked for a better start to my career.”

Dalby State High School Principal Dr Dean Russell said it was wonderful to see the graduating class of 2022 engaged in so many diverse pathways.

“Whether it be university, traineeships, apprenticeships, vocational studies or direct entry to the workforce, seeing our graduates successfully transition to their pathway of choice gives us as a school and community a lot of confidence that we are doing the right work when it comes to preparing our students for that all-important year after school," Dr Russell said.

More than 51,000 Year 12 students from 2021 were invited to participate in the 2022 Next Step survey, with more than 39,000 providing a response.

For more information on the 2022 Next Step survey, and for full regional breakdowns of statistics from right across Queensland, visit

Darling Downs South West data was calculated with survey results of students from the Balonne, Goondiwindi, Lockyer Valley, Maranoa, Southern Downs, Toowoomba and Western Downs LGAs.


Media contact: Bryce Heaton 0434 575 237