This bulletin examines the numbers and rates of young people who were under youth justice supervision in Australia during 2015–16 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.
5,500 young people were under youth justice supervision on an average day
In 2015–16 there were around 5,500 young people aged 10 and older who were under youth justice supervision in Australia, on an average day. Among those aged 10–17 this equates to a rate of 21 per 10,000, or about 1 in every 476 young people. Indigenous young people made up nearly half (48%) of young people aged 10–17 under supervision on an average day and over half (59%) of young people in detention.
Of all young people under supervision on an average day 4 in 5 (82%) were male, and most (79%) were aged 14–17.
A small proportion of these were in detention
Most of the 5,500 young people under supervision on an average day were supervised in the community (84%), on either unsentenced or sentenced orders (such as supervised conditional bail, home detention bail, suspended detention, parole or supervised release). The remainder (17%) were in detention. (Note: some were supervised in both the community and detention on the same day.)
Although, on an average day, most young people were supervised in the community, 44% of young people under supervision during 2015–16 had spent time in detention. More than half of young people in detention on an average day were unsentenced (awaiting the outcome of their legal matter or sentencing).
Indigenous over-representation increasing
Over the 5-year period to 2015–16, rates of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous young people under supervision fell. This decrease was proportionally greater for non-Indigenous young people, which resulted in an increase in the level of Indigenous over-representation.
In 2011–12, Indigenous young people were 13 times as likely to be under supervision as non-Indigenous young people, increasing to 17 times as likely in 2015–16. In 2015–16, Indigenous over-representation was higher for those in detention (25 times) than for those under community-based supervision (15 times).
Variation among the states and territories
Each state and territory in Australia has its own youth justice legislation, policies and practices, which are reflected in differences in the rate of youth justice supervision. In 2015–16, the rate of young people aged 10–17 under supervision on an average day was lowest in Victoria at 14 per 10,000 and highest in the Northern Territory at 57 per 10,000.
Over the 5-year period to 2015–16, the rate of young people aged 10–17 under supervision on an average day decreased in all states and territories except Queensland and the Northern Territory. In Queensland, the rate of young people aged 10–17 under supervision fluctuated between 28 and 30 per 10,000 each year, while in the Northern Territory there was an increase in the rate between 2011–12 and 2013–14 (from 55 to 63 per 10,000) dropping to 57 per 10,000 in the most recent year.
Numbers and rates under supervision
Characteristics of young people under supervision
Types of supervision
Time under supervision
End matter: Acknowledgments; Abbreviations; Symbols; References; More information