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Indigenous young people entered juvenile justice supervision at younger ages than their non-Indigenous counterparts, and spent longer under supervision, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Indigenous young people in the juvenile justice system, shows that 58% of Indigenous young people under supervision during 2010-11 had first entered supervision when they were aged 10-14, compared with less than one-third of non‑Indigenous young people.

While Indigenous young people tended to complete slightly shorter individual periods of supervision than non‑Indigenous young people (average period of 62 days compared with 68), they generally spent more time under supervision overall in 2010-11.

'On average, Indigenous young people spent about 3 weeks longer (200 days compared with 178) under supervision during the year,' said AIHW spokesperson Tim Beard.

There were 2,820 Indigenous young people under supervision in Australia on an average day (meaning around 2 in 5 young people under supervision were Indigenous) and 5,195 at some time during the year.

'The report shows that 14-16% of Indigenous young people experienced supervision at some time when they were aged 10-17, compared with just over 1% of non-Indigenous young people,' Mr Beard said.

Over the five years to 2010-11 there was a slight drop in the level of Indigenous over-representation under juvenile justice supervision. Indigenous young people were 15 times as likely as non-Indigenous young people to be under supervision on an average day in 2010-11, down from 16 times as likely in 2006-07.

The largest fall in Indigenous over-representation was in detention, where the ratio dropped from 28 to 24 times as likely over the period.

The report also found that Indigenous young people's over-representation increased as their level of involvement in the system became more serious.

'During 2010-11, Indigenous young people were 4-6 times more likely than their non-Indigenous counterparts to be proceeded against by the police; 8-11 times as likely to be proven guilty in a Children's Court; 14 times as likely to be under community-based supervision; and 18 times as likely to be in detention, said Mr Beard.   

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, 21 November 2012

Further information: Mr Tim Beard, AIHW, ph. 02 6244 1270 mob. 0418 271 395.

Full report: Indigenous young people in the juvenile justice system