Fewer young people under youth justice supervision, but Indigenous over-representation rising

UNDER EMBARGO—until 1.00AM, FRIDAY, 10 MAY, 2019

The number and rate of young people under youth justice supervision in Australia has declined over the 5 year period since 2013–14, according to a new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Youth justice in Australia 201718, shows that there were about 5,500 young people under supervision on an average day in 2017–18, down from over 6,250 in 2013–14.

The represents a drop from 24 to 21 young people aged 10-17 under youth justice supervision per 10,000 young people overall.

‘Most—83%—of the 5,500 young people under youth justice supervision were supervised in the community, with very few in detention on an average day,’ said AIHW spokesperson Anna Ritson.

‘Over the 5-year period to 2017-18, the number of young people in community-based supervision on an average day fell by 14%, while the number in detention rose slightly by 3%.’

Despite the falling number and rate of young people under youth justice supervision, the report shows that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people are more likely to be under youth justice supervision than non-Indigenous young people—and that the gap has widened in recent years.

‘Although only about 5% of young people aged 10–17 are Indigenous Australians, Indigenous young people made up 49%—or about 2,400—of those under youth justice supervision on an average day,’ said Ms Ritson.

‘And while there has been a drop in the rate of Indigenous young people under supervision in recent years, the decline for non-Indigenous young people was proportionally greater, effectively increasing Indigenous over-representation in the youth justice system.’

Indigenous young people are now 17 times as likely as non-Indigenous young people to be under youth justice supervision.

Today’s report is accompanied by 8 fact sheets, profiling youth justice supervision in each state and territory.

‘Each jurisdiction in Australia has its own youth justice legislation, policies and practices, which are reflected in differences in the rate of youth justice supervision,’ Ms Ritson said.

In 2017–18, the rate of young people aged 10–17 under supervision on an average day was lowest in Victoria at 12 per 10,000 and highest in the Northern Territory at 59 per 10,000.

Over the 5-year period to 2017-18, the rate of young people under supervision on an average day decreased in all states and territories, except the Australian Capital Territory.

Further information: Elise Guy, AIHW: Tel. 02 6244 1156, mob. 0468 525 418