Summary

Research shows that children and young people who have been abused or neglected are at greater risk of engaging in criminal activity and of entering the youth justice system. A better understanding of the characteristics and pathways of children and young people who are both in the child protection system and under youth justice supervision can help support staff, case workers, and policy makers to get the best outcomes for these children and young people. 

Using data from the linked child protection and youth justice supervision data collections, this report presents information on young people who had received child protection services, and had also been under youth justice supervision at some time between 1 July 2014 and 30 June 2018. 

Data in this report relate only to young people who were aged 10–14 at the start of the measurement period (1 July 2014), as these young people remained within the 10–17 age group for the entire 4-year measurement period. This is to ensure that individuals in the study cohort are eligible for both child protection services and youth justice supervision throughout the measurement period. 

Results are based on the 7 jurisdictions with data in both child protection and youth justice national minimum data sets—a total of 58,193 young people (54,116 from child protection and 8,112 from youth justice data sets). 

Of those who had received both child protection services and youth justice supervision, most had child protection first 

Of the 4,035 young people who had received both child protection services and youth justice supervision between 1 July 2014 and 30 June 2018, most (81%) had received child protection services as their first contact during the measurement period. 

Young people who had received child protection services were 9 times as likely as the general population to have also been under youth justice supervision 

Between 1 July 2014 and 30 June 2018, 7.5% of those who received child protection services (4,035 young people) had also been under youth justice supervision at some point during the same 4-year period. This is 9 times the rate of the general population aged 10–17 (0.8%). 

The level of youth justice supervision was 13% for those in out of home care; 13% for those under care and protection orders; and 7.2% for those who had been the subject of an investigated notification of child abuse and neglect.

Around half of those under youth justice supervision had also received child protection services 

Between 1 July 2014 and 30 June 2018, 50% of those under youth justice supervision (4,035 young people) had also received child protection services during the period. 

More than half of young people in detention (55%) and half of those in community-based supervision (50%) received child protection services. This equates to young people in detention being 10 times as likely and young people in community-based supervision being 9 times as likely as the general population to have received youth justice services. 

As this is the overlap for a 4-year period among young people aged 10–17, the actual level of interaction between these 2 sectors over time is likely to be higher. 

The younger people were at first supervision, the more likely they were to also have received child protection services during the period (62% of those aged 10 at first supervision, compared with 27% of those aged 17). 

Females under youth justice supervision were more likely than males to also receive child protection services 

Between 1 July 2014 and 30 June 2018, two-thirds (65%) of the females under youth justice supervision had child protection services at some time during the same period, compared with more than 2 in 5 (45%) males. This means that young females under youth justice supervision were 1.4 times as likely to have had child protection services as males. 

Young Indigenous and non-Indigenous females in detention were even more likely to have received child protection services (72% and 70%, respectively). 

Young Indigenous Australians were more likely than their non-Indigenous counterparts to have received both child protection services and youth justice supervision 

Between 1 July 2014 and 30 June 2018, 16% of Indigenous young people who received child protection services (2,031 young people) had also been under youth justice supervision. Of those under youth justice supervision, 54% had also received child protection services during the same period.

Young Indigenous Australians were 17 times as likely as their non-Indigenous counterparts to have been in both the child protection system and under youth justice supervision.