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The numbers and rates of young people under community-based supervision and in detention have fallen in recent years, according to statistics released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Youth justice in Australia 2013-14, found that over the 5 years to 2013-14, there was an overall drop in the rate of young people under youth justice supervision on an average day, from 28 to 23 per 10,000 young people aged 10-17.

This fall occurred in both community-based supervision and detention, from 24 to 20 per 10,000 and from 4.0 to 3.5 per 10,000 respectively.

Between 2012-13 and 2013-14 (the most recent 12-month period for which data are available), the number of young people under supervision on an average day fell by 5%, from about 6,400 to 6,100 across Australia, while the rate dropped from 24 to 23 per 10,000.

'The level of over-representation of Indigenous young people aged 10-17 in the youth justice system, however, has risen over the 5 years to 2013-14, from 13 to 15 times the non-Indigenous rate,' said AIHW spokesperson Justine Boland.

'This is because although numbers and rates have fallen overall, they have fallen faster for non-Indigenous young people than for Indigenous young people.'

More specifically, the level of Indigenous over-representation rose from 12 to 14 times for community-based supervision, and from 21 to 24 times for young people in detention.

'Also of concern is the younger age profile for Indigenous young people under supervision-on an average day, Indigenous young people under supervision were most commonly aged 15 or 16, compared with 16 or 17 for non-Indigenous young people,' Ms Boland said.

The report also found that most young people in the youth justice system-85%, or around 5,200 people on an average day-are supervised in the community, with 92% of those under community-based supervision serving a sentence.

Of those who were in detention (around 950 people on an average day), just over half (52%) were unsentenced. The remainder were serving a sentence.

'Unsentenced young people are those who may have been charged with an offence and are awaiting the outcome of their court matter, or have been found or pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing,' Ms Boland said.

Rates of young people under supervision on an average day varied among the states and territories. This reflects differences in legislation, policy and practice, including the types of supervised orders and options for diversion that are available.

The main report is accompanied by eight state and territory fact sheets, looking at specific data from each jurisdiction.

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, 29 April 2015

Further information: Ms Justine Boland, AIHW, tel. 02 6249 5124; mob. 0412 957 936

Full publication: Youth justice in Australia 2013-14