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About 1,000 young people are in juvenile detention on an average night in Australia and almost half of these young people are unsentenced, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Juvenile detention population in Australia 2011, provides information on the number of young people in detention in 2011 and describes recent trends in the detention population.

It shows that on an average night in the June quarter of 2011 there were 1,055 young people in detention, and 48% were unsentenced. This proportion ranged from 43% to 68% across states and territories—with the exception of Victoria, where just 22% were unsentenced.

‘Young people who are unsentenced are in custody because they are awaiting their next court appearance,’ said AIHW spokesperson Nigel Harding.

Detention rates were stable over the four years, with around 0.35 young people aged 10–17 per 1,000 in detention in Australia. There was little change in the rates of unsentenced and sentenced detention over the 4 years to 2011.

‘Detention rates were highest in the Northern Territory where the rate was more than twice the national average—ranging from 0.75 per 1,000 to 1.78 per 1,000 over the 4 years,’ Mr Harding said.

‘Detention rates were lowest in Victoria, where they ranged from 0.10 per 1,000 to 0.16 per 1,000.’

Indigenous young people continue to be over-represented in juvenile detention in all states and territories, although the level of Indigenous over-representation fell over the 4 years for both unsentenced and sentenced detention.

On an average night in the June quarter in 2011, an Indigenous young person aged 10–17 was 20 times as likely to be in unsentenced detention and 26 times as likely to be in sentenced detention as a non-Indigenous young person aged 10–17.

This over-representation was highest in Western Australia, where an Indigenous young person aged 10–17 was 29 times as likely to be in unsentenced detention and 50 times as likely to be in sentenced detention as a non-Indigenous young person.

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.

Canberra, 9 February 2012

Further information: Mr Nigel Harding, tel. (02) 6244 1025, mob. 0409 307 671

For media copies of the report: Publications Officer 02 6244 1032

Full report: Juvenile detention population in Australia 2011