In Australia, responsibility for juvenile justice lies with the states and territories and involves both juvenile justice agencies and other justice agencies such as the police and the courts. Each year, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare collects data on young people under juvenile justice supervision from the states and territories and publishes the results in the Juvenile justice in Australia reports. This report contains the main tables from Juvenile justice in Australia 2008–09. For more detailed analyses, please see the forthcoming report.

Western Australia provided only limited data in a non-standard format for 2008–09, and the Northern Territory did not provide any data for 2008–09. Approximate national totals were calculated using available data (see ‘Introduction and methods’).

In Australia, around 7,200 young people were under juvenile justice supervision on any given day in 2008–09, and around 14,500 young people were under supervision at some time during the year. Almost 90% of those under supervision on an average day were under community-based supervision; the remainder were in detention. Around 20% of young people under supervision during the year were both detained and under community-based supervision during the year (at different times).

Around 2.5 young people per 1,000 aged 10–17 years were under supervision on an average day in 2008–09 with 2.2 per 1,000 under community-based supervision and 0.4 in detention. Indigenous young people aged 10–17 years were 14 times as likely to be under community-based supervision on an average day as their non-Indigenous counterparts and 24 times as likely to be in detention.

The rate of young people under supervision on an average day increased in each of the four years from 2005–06 to 2008–09, from 2.1 per 1,000 in 2005–06 to 2.5 per 1,000 in 2008–09. Similarly, the rate of community-based supervision increased in each consecutive year, from 1.8 per 1,000 to 2.2 per 1,000 in 2008–09, while the detention rate increased slightly from 0.3 per 1,000 to 0.4.

While Indigenous young people continue to be over-represented under community-based supervision and in detention, there was a small decrease in the level of over-representation (as shown by the rate ratios). In 2005–06, an Indigenous young person aged 10–17 years was around 28 times as likely to be in detention on an average day as a non-Indigenous young person of the same age; by 2008–09, this had dropped to 24 times. For community-based supervision, the equivalent rate ratios were 16 in 2005–06 and 14 in 2008–09.