This report looks at young people who were under youth justice supervision in Australia during 2016–17 because of their involvement or alleged involvement in crime. It explores the key aspects of supervision, both in the community and in detention, as well as recent trends.
About 1 in 500 young people aged 10–17 were under supervision on an average day
A total of 5,359 young people aged 10 and over were under youth justice supervision on an average day in 2016–17. Among those aged 10–17, this equates to a rate of 20 per 10,000, or 1 in every 492 young people.
Most young people were supervised in the community
More than 4 in 5 (83% or 4,473) young people under supervision on an average day were supervised in the community, and close to 1 in 5 (17% or 913) were in detention (some were supervised in both the community and detention on the same day).
The majority of young people in detention were unsentenced
About 3 in 5 (61%) young people in detention on an average day were unsentenced—that is, awaiting the outcome of their legal matter or sentencing.
Young people spent an average of 6 months under supervision
Individual periods of supervision that were completed during 2016–17 lasted for a median of 122 days or about 4 months. When all the time spent under supervision during 2016–17 is considered (including multiple periods and periods that were not yet completed), young people who were supervised during the year spent an average of 185 days or about 6 months under supervision.
Supervision rates varied among the states and territories
Rates of youth justice supervision varied among the states and territories, reflecting, in part, the fact that each state and territory has its own legislation, policies, and practices. In 2016–17, the rate of young people aged 10–17 under supervision on an average day ranged from 13 per 10,000 in Victoria to 67 per 10,000 in the Northern Territory.
Rates of supervision have fallen over the past 5 years
Over the 5 years from 2012–13 to 2016–17, the number of young people aged 10–17 under supervision on an average day fell by 16%, while the rate dropped from 25 to 20 per 10,000. These falls occurred in both community-based supervision (from 21 to 17 per 10,000) and detention (from 4 to 3 per 10,000).
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander over-representation has increased
Although only about 5% of young people aged 10–17 in Australia are Indigenous, half (50%) of those under supervision on an average day in 2016–17 were Indigenous. The level of Indigenous over-representation (as measured by the rate ratio) rose over the 5 years from 2012–13 to 2016–17. On an average day in 2012–13, Indigenous young people aged 10–17 were 15 times as likely as non-Indigenous young people to be under supervision, rising to 18 times as likely in 2016–17. This was due to a proportionally greater fall in the non-Indigenous rate compared with the Indigenous rate over the period.