This bulletin examines the numbers and rates of young people who were under youth justice supervision in Australia during 2014-15 because of their involvement or alleged involvement in crime. It explores key aspects of their supervision, both in the community and in detention, as well as recent trends.
About 5,600 young people were under youth justice supervision on an average day
In 2014-15, there were around 5,600 young people (aged 10 and older) who were under youth justice supervision on an average day. Among those aged 10-17, this equates to a rate of 21 per 10,000 or about 1 in every 466 young people.
Most (82%) young people under supervision on an average day were male; 79% were aged 14-17; and 2 in 5 (43%) were Indigenous.
Few young people in detention
Almost 900 (16%) young people under supervision on an average day in 2014-15 were in detention; most (about 4,800 or 85%) were supervised in the community (note that totals may not sum due to rounding, and some young people may have been under community-based supervision and in detention on the same day). More than half (54%) of those in detention were unsentenced (awaiting the outcome of their legal matter or sentencing).
Consistent decreases in the number and rate of young people under supervision
The 5-year period to 2014-15 showed a steady decrease in the number and rate of young people under supervision on an average day. Overall, the number under supervision fell by 23%, while the rate dropped from 28 to 21 per 10,000 young people aged 10-17.
This decrease occurred in both community-based supervision (where the rate dropped from 24 to 18 per 10,000 aged 10-17) and detention (from 4 to 3 per 10,000).
Indigenous supervision rates decreased, but over-representation continued to rise
Over the 5-year period, rates of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous young people under supervision fell. This decrease was proportionally greater for non-Indigenous young people (from 17 to 12 per 10,000 aged 10-17) than for Indigenous young people (from 213 to 180 per 10,000), which resulted in an increase in the level of over-representation of Indigenous young people. Indigenous young people aged 10-17 were 13 times as likely as non-Indigenous young people to be under supervision on an average day in 2010-11, rising to 15 times as likely in 2014-15.
Rates of supervision varied among the states and territories
The rate of young people aged 10-17 under supervision on an average day in 2014-15 was lowest in Victoria at 14 per 10,000 and highest in the Northern Territory at 54 per 10,000.
Over the 5-year period to 2014-15, rates of supervision decreased in most states and territories except Queensland and the Northern Territory where there was no consistent trend (note data for the Northern Territory for 2010-11 were not available).
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.