This bulletin presents information on all young people who were under youth justice supervision in Australia during 2013–14, both in the community and in detention. It also explores key aspects of their supervision, and recent trends.

6,100 young people were under youth justice supervision on an average day

On an average day in 2013–14, there were 6,100 young people aged 10 and older who were under supervision in Australia due to their involvement or alleged involvement in crime. About 4 in 5 (82%) were male, and a similar proportion (79%) were aged 14–17.

Among those aged 10–17, this equates to a rate of 23 per 10,000, or about 1 in every 433 young people. Indigenous young people were about 15 times as likely as non-Indigenous young people to be under supervision on an average day, with a rate of 189 per 10,000 aged 10–17, compared with 13 per 10,000 for non-Indigenous young people.

Most young people were supervised in the community

In 2013–14, 85% of young people under supervision on an average day (or 5,191 people) were supervised in the community, and 92% of those under community-based supervision were serving a sentence. There were 951 young people in detention on an average day-just over half (52%) were unsentenced (awaiting the outcome of their legal matter or sentencing).

Rates of young people under supervision are declining

Over the 5 years to 2013–14, there was an overall drop in the rate of young people under supervision on an average day from 28 to 23 per 10,000 aged 10–17. This decrease occurred in both community-based supervision (from 24 to 20 per 10,000) and detention (from 4.0 to 3.5 per 10,000).

Between 2012–13 and 2013–14, the number under supervision fell by 5% (from about 6,400 to 6,100) while the rate dropped from 24 to 23 per 10,000.

Indigenous over-representation rising

Although the rate of young people under supervision fell in recent years, the decrease was proportionally greater for non-Indigenous young people than for Indigenous young people. This means that the level of over-representation of Indigenous young people (as measured by the rate ratio) increased over the 5-year period to 2013–14, from 13 to 15 times the non-Indigenous rate. This over-representation rose from 12 to 14 times the non-Indigenous rate for community-based supervision and from 21 to 24 times for detention.

Rates of supervision varied among the states and territories

The rate of young people aged 10–17 under supervision on an average day in 2013–14 was lowest in Victoria at 14 per 10,000, and highest in the Northern Territory at 61 per 10,000. Over the 5-year period to that point, rates fell in all states and territories except Queensland, where there was no consistent change, and the Northern Territory, where rates rose over the 3-year period from 2011–12 to 2013–14 (data unavailable for the Northern Territory for 2009–10 and 2010–11).

Variations in the rates of supervision among the states and territories reflect differences in legislation, policy and practices in the respective youth justice systems, including types of supervised orders and options for diversion that are available.

Young people spent 6 months under supervision, on average

When all periods spent under supervision during 2013–14 are considered, young people, on average, spent 6 months (182 days) under supervision. They spent more time under community-based supervision (175 days on average) than in detention (67 days).