Pathways through youth justice supervision explores the types of youth justice supervision experienced by particular cohorts of young people, based on data available from the Juvenile Justice National Minimum Data Set (JJ NMDS) from 2000-01 to 2012-13. It examines the characteristics of young people within the most common supervision pathways-including Indigenous status, sex and age at first supervision-and whether pathways have changed over time. A 'supervision pathway' is a summary of supervision episodes experienced by young people under youth justice supervision. Understanding supervision pathways can inform the provision and targeting of services that aim to reduce the offending behaviours of young people.

The top 10 pathways accounted for nearly three-quarters of the cohort

Nationally, the top 10 pathways accounted for nearly three-quarters (71%) of young people who experienced youth justice supervision. These pathways ranged from a single episode of supervision to more complex pathways involving a range of episodes of multiple supervision types. There has been a greater variation in pathways over time, with the proportion of young people within the 10 most common pathways gradually declining. This variation was also observed among individual states with comparable data.

Half of all young people experienced only 1 type of supervision

Of all young people under youth justice supervision while aged 10-17, about half (52%) only experienced 1 type of supervision. Young people who experienced sentenced community-based supervision were the least likely to go on and experience another form of supervision.

Pathways that contained detention were more complex

Young people whose pathways contained some form of detention experienced more varied and complex pathways. This was particularly the case for sentenced detention, where only 17% of young people experienced a pathway within the top 10.

Pathways differed by young people's characteristics

This report shows that young males, young Indigenous people, young people aged 10-14 at first supervision and those who experienced sentenced detention at some point were more likely than their counterparts, to have more complex, varied and serious (that is, containing detention) pathways through supervision. For the 4 states with available comparable data, young people in New South Wales and South Australia experienced more variation in their pathways than those young people from Queensland and Victoria.

Completing the story

Further research is required in order to gain a more comprehensive understanding of young people's supervision pathways and contact with the justice system more generally. Current research highlights a number of additional factors that can play a role, including child abuse and neglect; disability; socio-economic status; homelessness; and the type of offence committed. A range of data development and linkage projects could be undertaken to examine the interaction of these factors. In addition, it would be ideal if future analyses were able to encapsulate a young person's continuing contact with the criminal justice system into adulthood and thus their full pathway.