Youth justice supervision rates continue to fall

From 2016–17 to 2020–21, the number of young people under youth justice supervision due to their involvement, or alleged involvement in crime, has dropped, according to a new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Youth justice in Australia 2020–21, presents information on young people aged 10 and over under youth justice supervision, both in the community and in detention.

‘The report shows that the number of young people aged 10 and over who were under supervision on an average day fell by 12% between 2016–17 and 2020–21,’ said AIHW spokesperson Dr. Gabrielle Phillips.

On an average day in 2020–21, there were around 4,700 young people under youth justice supervision. Throughout the year, a total of about 9,350 young people were under supervision.

‘Of the young people under supervision in 2020–21, 96% were aged 14 and over,’ said Dr. Phillips.

‘On an average day, more than 4 in 5 (84%) young people under supervision were supervised in the community and about 1 in 6 (17%) were in detention, with some supervised in both the community and detention on the same day. The majority (72%) of young people in detention were unsentenced.’

Dr. Phillips noted that some groups affected by disparities in culture, socioeconomic areas and geographical locations are more likely to be over-represented in youth justice supervision.

‘The rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people aged 10–17 in detention declined from 161 to 117 per 10,000 between 2016–17 and 2020–21. The non-Indigenous rate also fell over the period, from 9.5 to 7.2 per 10,000,’ Dr. Phillips said.

Young people from very remote areas across Australia were 6 times as likely to be under supervision as those from major cities.

More than 1 in 3 young people (35%) under supervision were from the lowest socioeconomic areas, compared with about 1 in 17 young people (6.4%) from the highest socioeconomic areas.

‘The full impact of COVID-19 is difficult to determine due to variability of the data and small numbers of young people in youth justice on an average day,’ Dr. Phillips said.

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

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