In Australia, the state and territory governments are responsible for dealing with young people who are involved in crime. One major aspect of this juvenile justice system is the supervision of children and young people who have committed or are alleged to have committed an offence. This report presents information on the young people under juvenile justice supervision, both in detention and under community-based supervision, and the supervision provided by juvenile justice agencies.
Few young people are involved in the juvenile justice system
Each year, less than 5% of young people are proceeded against by police, only around 2% have a case finalised in a children’s court, 0.5% are supervised by a juvenile justice agency and 0.2% are detained.
In 2008–09, there were around 7,200 young people under juvenile justice supervision on an average day and around 5,800 of these were aged 10–17 years (the remainder were aged 18 years and older). Western Australia and the Northern Territory did not provide standard data for 2008–09, and approximate national totals were calculated using available data (see Chapter 3 for details). Unless otherwise noted, numbers in this section refer to the approximate national total of around 7,200 young people. On any given day in 2008–09, only 0.25% of young Australians were under supervision. Most (around 6,200) of those under supervision on an average day were under community-based supervision, while around 1,000 were in detention.
However, the rate of young people under supervision increased slightly in recent years, rising from 2.2 per 1,000 aged 10–17 years in 2005–06 to 2.5 per 1,000 in 2008–09.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people are over- represented, especially in detention
On an average day in 2008–09, an Indigenous young person aged 10–17 years was almost 14 times as likely to be under community-based supervision as a non-Indigenous young person of the same age. The level of over-representation was even higher for detention. On an average day, an Indigenous young person aged 10–17 years was 24 times as likely to be detained as a non-Indigenous 10–17 year old. Although only 5% of young Australians are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, half of those in detention on an average day were Indigenous.
Young people from areas of low socioeconomic status are more likely to be under supervision
Almost 30% of those under supervision on an average day were from one of the areas of lowest socioeconomic status in Australia (excluding Western Australia and the Northern Territory, for which data were unavailable), while only 12% were from one of the areas of highest socioeconomic status. A young person aged 10–17 years who lived in a low socioeconomic area was around 5 times as likely to be under supervision on an average day in 2008–09 as someone of the same age who lived in an area of high socioeconomic status.