The bulletin compares 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 2015 to the June quarter 2019.
There were 949 young people in detention on an average night
There were 949 young people in youth detention on an average night in the June quarter 2019. The vast majority (90%) were male. Most detainees (83%) were aged 10–17, a rate of 3.3 per 10,000 young people in this age group. The other detainees were aged 18 or over.
Almost 2 in 3 (63%) young people in detention on an average night in the June quarter 2019 were unsentenced—that is, they were awaiting the outcome of their court matter or sentencing. The remainder were serving a sentence.
Numbers and rates of young people in detention have fluctuated over time
Over the 4-year period from the June quarter 2015 to the June quarter 2019, the number of young people in detention on an average night fluctuated, with no clear trend. The number was lowest in the September quarter 2016 (806 young people), and highest in the March quarter 2018 (970).
The rate of young people aged 10–17 in detention fluctuated, at 2.8–3.5 per 10,000 each quarter over the 4-year period, but showed no consistent trend.
Rates for sentenced detention fell, while unsentenced detention showed no clear trend over time
In the June quarter 2019, there were 2.3 per 10,000 young people aged 10–17 in unsentenced detention on an average night, and 1.0 per 10,000 in sentenced detention.
The rates of young people in unsentenced detention varied over time, with no clear trend. Over the 4-year period, the rate of young people aged 10–17 in unsentenced detention ranged between 1.7 per 10,000 in the September quarter 2016 to 2.4 per 10,000 in the March quarter 2019.
For young people in sentenced detention, the rates varied, with an overall downward trend. The rates of young people in sentenced detention ranged from a high of 1.3 per 10,000 in the December quarter 2015 to a low of 0.9 per 10,000 in the March quarter 2019, before rising slightly to 1.0 per 10,000 in the most recent quarter.
More than half of those in detention were Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander
Just over half (53%) of all young people in detention on an average night in the June quarter 2019 were Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. Young Indigenous Australians aged 10–17 were 21 times as likely as young non-Indigenous Australians to be in detention on an average night, and this fluctuated, at 19–26 times the non-Indigenous rate over the 4-year period.
Trends vary across the states and territories
The number of young people in detention on an average night rose over the 4-year period in Victoria and Queensland, and fell in South Australia. Other states and territories showed no clear 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
- Youth detention data sources
- Youth detention reports
End matter: Acknowledgments; Abbreviations; Symbols; References; Related publications