In Australia, the state and territory governments are responsible for dealing with young people who are involved in crime. One major aspect of the 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 characteristics of their supervision.
Most young people are under community-based supervision
There were around 7,250 young people under juvenile justice supervision on an average day during 2009–10, and most (86%) were under community-based supervision. Western Australia and the Northern Territory did not provide standard data for 2009–10 and where possible, national totals were calculated using available data (see Chapter 3 for details). Young people aged 10–17 years were almost 6 times as likely to be under community-based supervision as in detention on an average day, although Indigenous young people were only 4 times as likely to be under community-based supervision.
However, the propensity to be under community-based supervision rather than in detention varied among the states and territories (excluding Western Australia and the Northern Territory), and ranged from 4 times as likely in New South Wales to 11 times in Victoria. This variation reflects differences in legislation, policy and practice, including the range of supervised orders and options for diversion that are available in each of the states and territories.
Overall, however, few young people are under juvenile justice supervision. Just 0.3% of young Australians were under supervision on any given day in 2009–10.
Young people spend half the year under juvenile justice supervision
The average length of time spent under supervision during 2009–10 was 6 months, and young people spent 3 times as long under community-based supervision as in detention (almost 6 months under community-based supervision compared with 2 months in detention). Among the states and territories (excluding Western Australia and the Northern Territory), the average length of time spent under supervision ranged from 5 months in the Australian Capital Territory to 7 months in Tasmania.
Indigenous young people spent more time under supervision than non-Indigenous young people, especially in detention. Indigenous young people spent 2.5 more weeks in detention during the year than non-Indigenous young people, but just 4 more days, on average, under community-based supervision.
Almost half of those under supervision have never been in detention
A sizeable proportion of those under supervision have only ever had community-based supervision—44% of those under supervision during 2009–10 have never been in detention. However, this was less likely for Indigenous young people: only 32% of Indigenous young men and 42% of Indigenous young women had never been detained, compared with 46% of non-Indigenous young men and 49% of non-Indigenous women