This bulletin looks at the numbers and rates of young people aged 10 and over who were in youth detention in Australia due to their involvement, or alleged involvement, in crime. It focuses on trends over the 4-year period from the June quarter 2013 to the June quarter 2017.
More than 950 young people in detention on an average night
There were 964 young people in youth detention on an average night in the June quarter 2017. The vast majority (91%) were male and most (84%) were aged 10–17. This equates to a rate of 3.5 young people aged 10–17 per 10,000. The other detainees were aged 18 or older.
Almost 2 in 3 (64%) young people in detention on an average night in the June quarter 2017 were unsentenced—that is, they were awaiting the outcome of their court matter or sentencing—and the remainder were serving a sentence (excluding Victoria as data were not available).
Detention rates are stable
Over the 4-year period from the June quarter 2013 to the June quarter 2017, the number of young people in detention on an average night fluctuated, with no consistent trend. The number was lowest in the September quarter 2016 (803 young people) and highest in the most recent quarter (964).
Similarly, the rate of those aged 10-17 in detention fluctuated between 2.8 and 3.5 per 10,000 each quarter over the 4-year period.
Sentenced detention has decreased, while unsentenced detention is stable
In the June quarter 2017, there were 2.6 per 10,000 young people aged 10–17 in unsentenced detention on an average night, and 1.4 per 10,000 in sentenced detention (excluding Victoria).
Over the 4-year period, the rate of young people in sentenced detention decreased from a high of 1.7 per 10,000 aged 10–17 in the December quarter 2013 to a low of 1.2 per 10,000 in the December quarter 2016, before rising slightly to 1.4 per 10,000 in the most recent quarter. The rate of young people in unsentenced detention ranged between 1.8 per 10,000 (September quarter 2016) and 2.6 per 10,000 aged 10–17 (March and June quarters 2017), with no clear trend.
Over half of those in detention are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people
Just over half (53%) of all young people in detention on an average night in the June quarter 2017 were Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. Indigenous young people aged 10–17 were 24 times as likely as non-Indigenous young people to be in detention on an average night, and this fluctuated between 23 and 27 times the non-Indigenous rate over the 4-year period.
Trends vary across the states and territories
Rates of young people in detention on an average night increased over the 4-year period in Victoria, and decreased in New South Wales, Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory (despite a rise in the Australian Capital Territory in the most recent quarter). Rates in the other states and territories remained relatively stable or showed no consistent trend.
- Youth detention in Australia
- Youth detention data
2. Trends in detention
3. Trends in sentenced and unsentenced detention
4. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people
5. State and territory trends
- Sentenced and unsentenced detention
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people
End matter: Technical notes; References; Acknowledgments; Abbreviations; Symbols; Related publications