A first-of-its-kind report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) presents a picture of young people in Australia as they moved through the juvenile justice system between 2000-01 and 2003-04.
The report, Juvenile justice in Australia 2000-01 to 2003-04, is based on the Juvenile Justice national minimum data set (NMDS), a joint project between the Australasian Juvenile Justice Administrators (AJJA) and the AIHW, and is designed to provide nationally comparable information on the juvenile justice system.
It examines periods of time young people across Australia spent in detention and under community-based supervision and how those periods were managed.
'In 2003-04 the majority of juvenile justice sentenced supervision was community-based, which included probation, recognisance and community service orders, with just 9% of periods containing episodes of sentenced detention,' said Dr Phil Anderson of AIHW's Community Services Integration and Linkage Unit.
During 2003-04 there were 12,992 young people under juvenile justice supervision in Australia, with males representing around 83%.
Approximately two-thirds (67%) of young people under juvenile justice supervision were aged 16 years or older with less than 8% aged 13 years or younger.
About 30% of young people under juvenile justice supervision were of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin.
The rate for Indigenous young people aged 10-17 years who were under juvenile justice supervision was over ten times that of their non-Indigenous counterparts - approximately 34 per 1,000 for Indigenous youth compared with about 3 per 1,000 for non-Indigenous young people.
In addition to providing statistics on young people within the juvenile justice system, the report also describes existing diversity in legislation, policy and practices.
'As responsibility for juvenile justice rests with state and territory governments, the age when young people are considered juveniles or adults by the justice system, policy directions, diversionary options, possible court outcomes, and specific programs and services available to young people differ throughout Australia.
'Now for the first time, states and territories have a common resource to consult when comparing their policies and legislation and those of other jurisdictions,' Dr Anderson said.