This report looks at young people who were under youth justice supervision in Australia during 2018–19 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 490 young people aged 10–17 were under supervision on an average day
A total of 5,694 young people aged 10 and over were under youth justice supervision on an average day in 2018–19 and 10,820 young people were supervised at some time during the year. Among those aged 10–17, this equates to a rate of 20 per 10,000, or 1 in every 489 young people on an average day.
Most young people were supervised in the community
More than 4 in 5 (84% or 4,767) young people under supervision on an average day were supervised in the community, and almost 1 in 5 (17% or 956) were in detention (some were supervised in both community and detention on the same day).
The majority of young people in detention were unsentenced
About 3 in 5 (63%) 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 2018–19 lasted for a median of 132 days or about 4 months (this includes time under supervision before 1 July 2018 if the period started before that date).
When all the time spent under supervision during 2018–19 is considered (including multiple periods and periods that were not yet completed), young people who were supervised during the year spent an average of 192 days (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 2018–19, the rate of young people aged 10–17 under supervision on an average day ranged from 11 per 10,000 in Victoria to 61 per 10,000 in the Northern Territory.
Rates of supervision have fallen slightly over the past 5 years
Over the 5 years from 2014–15 to 2018–19, the number of young people aged 10 and over who were under supervision on an average day saw a small decrease of 1%, while the rate of young people aged 10–17 dropped from 22 to 20 per 10,000.
The rate fell for community-based supervision (from 19 to 17 per 10,000), and fluctuated at 3–4 per 10,000 for detention.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rates have fallen
Although only about 6% of young people aged 10–17 in Australia are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, half (50%) of those under supervision on an average day in 2018–19 were Indigenous.
Between 2014–15 and 2018–19, the rate of Indigenous young people aged 10–17 under supervision on an average day fell from 176 to 172 per 10,000. The rate of non-Indigenous young people under supervision also fell over the period, from 12 to 11 per 10,000.
Rates of Indigenous (33–35 per 10,000) and non-Indigenous (1–2 per 10,000) young people in detention fluctuated over the same period.
Young people in remote areas were more likely to be under supervision
Although most young people under supervision had come from cities and regional areas, those from geographically remote areas had the highest rates of supervision.
On an average day in 2018–19, young people aged 10–17 who were from Remote areas were 6 times as likely to be under supervision as those from Major cities, while those from Very remote areas were 9 times as likely. This reflects the higher proportions of Indigenous Australians living in these areas.
Young people from lower socioeconomic areas were more likely to be under supervision
More than 1 in 3 young people (35%) under supervision on an average day in 2018–19 were from the lowest socioeconomic areas, compared with 6% from the highest socioeconomic areas.
More than 1 in 3 young people were new to supervision
More than one-third (35%) of young people under youth justice supervision in 2018–19 were new to supervision in that year. The rest (65%) had been supervised in a previous year. Young Indigenous Australians (71%) were more likely than young non-Indigenous young people (62%) to have been under supervision in a previous year.
Young Indigenous Australians were younger when they entered supervision than their
On average, Indigenous young people entered youth justice supervision at a younger age than non-Indigenous young people.
About 2 in 5 (38%) Indigenous young people under supervision in 2018–19 were first supervised when aged 10–13, compared with about 1 in 7 (15%) non-Indigenous young people.
A higher proportion of young people experience community-based supervision in their supervision history than detention
More than 9 in 10 (92%) young people who were supervised during 2018–19 had been under community-based supervision at some time during their supervision history (either during 2018–19 or in a previous year). More than 6 in 10 (65%) had spent time in detention. For Indigenous young people these proportions were 94% and 70% respectively.