Summary

Research shows that children and young people who have been abused or neglected are at greater risk of engaging in criminal activity and 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 assist support staff, case workers and policy makers to get the best outcomes for these children and young people. With the recent introduction of a national unit record child protection data collection, it is now possible to link child protection and youth justice supervision data to explore the relationships between child protection and youth justice supervision.

This report presents information on young people aged 10–17 who were involved in the child protection system and subject to youth justice supervision at some time during 2014–15, using data from the linked child protection and youth justice supervision data collection. Results are limited to the 5 jurisdictions with both child protection and youth justice National Minimum Data Set data for 2014–15 (Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory)—a total of 30,402 young people aged 10–17.

The results from the linked data collection will be enhanced in future years as data become available for more states and territories and as years of data accumulate. Linking to other health and welfare data collections would also provide additional information on multiple service use among vulnerable children and young people.

Young people in the child protection system were 14 times as likely as the general population to be under youth justice supervision in the same year

In 2014–15, 5.5% of those aged 10–17 who were in the child protection system were also under youth justice supervision in the same year (although not necessarily at the same time), compared with just 0.4% of the general population aged 10-17. Indigenous young people in the child protection system were more than twice as likely to be under youth justice supervision as non-Indigenous young people (10.4% compared with 4.3%).

The level of dual involvement was 8.0% for those under care and protection orders, 6.3% for those in out-of-home care and 4.1% for those who were the subject of an investigated notification.

Young people under youth justice supervision were 15 times as likely as the general population to be in the child protection system in the same year

In 2014–15, 32.4% of those under youth justice supervision were also in the child protection system. Two (2) in 5 (40.8%) of those in detention were involved in the child protection system in the same year, which is 19 times the rate for the general population. The level of child protection involvement for those under community-based supervision in 2014-15 was also high: with about one-third (32.1%) also in the child protection system.

The younger someone was at their first youth justice supervision, the more likely they were to also be in child protection in 2014–15: of those under youth justice supervision in 2014–15, 3 in 5 (60.0%) of those aged 10 at their first youth justice supervision were also in child protection in 2014–15, compared with 9.4% of those aged 17.