Indigenous over-representation in juvenile detention falls

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people continue to be over-represented within the juvenile justice system, but this over-representation has fallen in recent years, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Juvenile justice in Australia 2010–11, provides information on young people who were under juvenile justice supervision in Australia during 2010–11.

It shows that on an average day in that year, Indigenous young people aged 10–17 were 24 times as likely as non-Indigenous young people to be in detention.

‘This level of Indigenous over-representation remains very high, but is an improvement on the 2007–08 level of 28 times as likely to be in detention,’ said AIHW spokesperson Tim Beard.

The over-representation of Indigenous young people who are under community-based supervision has also fallen slightly—from 15 times as likely in 2007–08 to 14 times as likely in 2010–11.

‘Overall, few young Australians are involved in the juvenile justice system,’ Mr Beard said.

On an average day in 2010–11, there were about 7,265 young people under juvenile justice supervision in Australia. Of these, about 2,820 (39%) were Indigenous young people, which compares to their representation among the broader youth population of around 5%.

Most (86% or 6,250) young people were supervised in the community and the remainder (14% or 1,045) were in detention.

‘To put those numbers in the context of the whole community, around 3% of young people aged 10–17 were proceeded against by police, just over 1% had a case finalised in a Children’s Court, about 0.5% were supervised by a juvenile justice agency in the community, and less than 0.3% were in detention’, Mr Beard said.

Over the 4-year period to 2010–11, rates of young people under community-based supervision and in detention remained relatively steady.

On an average day, half (50%) of all young people in detention were unsentenced, and most (87%) of those in detention during 2010–11 experienced unsentenced detention at some time during the year.

A bulletin providing key points from the full report is also available.

The report includes limited estimates for Western Australia and the Northern Territory, as they did not participate in the Juvenile Justice National Minimum Data Set during 2010–11.

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.


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