Some young people are vulnerable and experience multiple levels of disadvantage. Evidence shows that overlaps exist among young people who experience child protection, youth justice supervision, homelessness, mental health disorders, and problematic use of alcohol and other drugs. Understanding the pathways and interactions with the health and welfare sectors for these young people is crucial for effective service delivery and targeted early intervention services.
Despite the relationship between youth offending and the use of alcohol and other drugs, data about the overlap between the services provided to young people by these 2 sectors in Australia has not been previously available.
This report presents information on young people aged 10–17 who were under youth justice supervision (both in the community, and in detention) and/or received an alcohol and other drug (AOD) treatment service between 1 July 2012 and 30 June 2016. Those who received both these services are referred to in this report as dual service clients.
Young people under youth justice supervision were 30 times as likely as the young Australian population to receive an alcohol and other drug treatment service
Of young people who were under youth justice supervision from 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2016, 1 in 3 (33%) also received an AOD treatment service at some point during the same 4-year period, compared with just over 1% of the general Australian population of the same age.
Nearly 1 in 4 (23%) young people under youth justice supervision received treatment for a principal drug of concern of cannabis, 1 in 12 (8%) for alcohol, and 1 in 20 (5%) for amphetamines. Less than 1% of young Australians in the general population of the same age received an AOD treatment for each of these principal drugs of concern. This means that compared with the Australian population, young people under youth justice supervision were 33 times as likely to receive an AOD treatment for cannabis, 27 times as likely to be treated for alcohol, and more than 50 times as likely to be treated for amphetamines.
Young people who received an alcohol and other drug treatment service were 30 times as likely as the Australian population to be under youth justice supervision
Of young people who received an AOD treatment service, 1 in 5 (21%) were also under youth justice supervision at some point during the same 4-year period, compared with 0.7% of the Australian population of the same age. About 1 in 4 (26%) young people who received an AOD treatment as a diversion (police and court referrals) in 2012–13 subsequently spent time under youth justice supervision within 3 years.
Young people who received an alcohol and other drug treatment service for volatile solvents or amphetamines were the most likely to also have youth justice supervision
Of the 11,981 young people who received an AOD treatment service, those whose principal drug of concern was volatile solvents or amphetamines were the most likely to have also been under youth justice supervision.
Dual service clients were more likely than those who only received alcohol and other drug treatment services to have multiple treatment episodes and drugs of concern
Nearly half (47%) of dual service clients received more than 1 AOD treatment episode in the 4-year period, compared with about 1 in 5 (19%) of those who received only an AOD treatment service. One in 5 (20%) dual service clients received services for multiple principal drugs of concern, compared with 4% of those who received only an AOD treatment service.
Young Indigenous Australians were 14 times as likely as their non-Indigenous counterparts to receive both services
Young Indigenous Australians were over-represented among the dual service clients—2% of young Indigenous Australians had contact with both services during the 4-year period, compared with 0.1% of non-Indigenous young people.