Fewer young people under youth justice supervision, but Indigenous young people are still over-repre

The overall numbers of young people under youth justice supervision fell by 23%, however, Indigenous over-representation is still high, a new report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has shown.

The report, Youth justice in Australia 2014–15, shows that the rate of young people aged 10–17 under the youth justice supervision, dropped from 28 per 10,000 in 2010–11 to 21 in 2014–15.

‘This decrease occurred in both community-based supervision (where the rate dropped from 24 to 18 per 10,000 aged 10–17) and detention (from 4 to 3 per 10,000),’ said AIHW spokesperson Mr Mark Cooper-Stanbury.

On an average day in 2014–15, there were around 5,600 young people (aged 10 and older) who were under youth justice supervision.

‘Most of the young people under supervision were male (82%), aged 14–17 years (79%), and 2 in 5 (43%) were Indigenous,’ said Mr Cooper-Stanbury.

Of the young people under supervision, 16% were in detention, and of these more than half (54%) were unsentenced (awaiting the outcome of their legal matter or sentencing).

‘Over the 5-year period to 2014–15, rates of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous young people under supervision fell, although the fall was proportionally greater for non-Indigenous young people,’ said Mr Cooper-Stanbury.

Non-Indigenous rates of supervision fell from 17 to 12 per 10,000 and Indigenous young people rates fell from 213 to 180 per 10,000 resulting in an increase in the level of over-representation of Indigenous young people.

More specifically, the rate of Indigenous young people aged 10–17 under supervision went from 13 times as likely as non-Indigenous young people in 2010–11, to 15 times as likely in 2014–15.

The rate of young people aged 10–17 under supervision on an average day in 2014–15 was lowest in Victoria at 14 per 10,000 and highest in the Northern Territory at 54 per 10,000.

Over the 5-year period to 2014–15, rates of supervision decreased in most states and territories except Queensland and the Northern Territory where there was no consistent trend.

Variations in the rates of supervision among the states and territories reflect differences in legislation, policy and practices in the respective youth justice systems, including types of supervised orders and options for diversion that are available.

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, 27 April 2016 

Further information: Mr Mark Cooper-Stanbury, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1251, mob. 0418 271 395