Australian Bureau of Statistics

Rate the ABS website
ABS Home > Statistics > By Release Date
ABS @ Facebook ABS @ Twitter ABS RSS ABS Email notification service
4704.0 - The Health and Welfare of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, 2008  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 29/04/2008   
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All RSS Feed RSS Bookmark and Share Search this Product  
Contents >> Community Services >> JUVENILE JUSTICE

JUVENILE JUSTICE

The juvenile justice system is responsible for dealing with young people who have committed or allegedly committed an offence while a 'juvenile'. In Queensland, juvenile justice legislation applies to those people who were aged 10-16 years of age at the time of the offence. In most other jurisdictions, however, those who were aged 10-17 years of age are included as juveniles. Victoria also has a sentencing option for adult courts which allows for some 18-20 year-olds to be sentenced to detention in juvenile justice facilities.

Juvenile justice is a state and territory responsibility and each jurisdiction has its own legislation that dictates policies and practices in this area. While there are differences in detail, the intent of the legislation is very similar across Australia. For example, key elements of juvenile justice in all jurisdictions include:

  • diversion of young people from court where appropriate;
  • incarceration as a last resort;
  • victim's rights;
  • the acceptance of responsibility by the offender for his or her behaviour; and
  • community safety.

The juvenile justice system in each state and territory comprises several organisations, each having a different primary role and responsibility in dealing with young offenders:
  • the Police, who are usually the young person's first point of contact with the justice system. Where considered appropriate, the Police may administer warnings, cautions and in some jurisdictions use conferencing to divert the juvenile from proceeding to court;
  • the courts (usually a special children's or youth court), where matters regarding the charges against the young person are heard. The courts are largely responsible for decisions regarding bail (and remand) and sentencing options if the young person admits guilt or is found guilty by the court;
  • the juvenile justice departments, which are responsible for the supervision of juveniles on a range of community-based orders and supervised bail and which are also responsible for the administration of juvenile detention centres.

The AIHW and the Australasian Juvenile Justice Administrators (AJJA) have developed a national data collection with information about young people who are on supervised community-based orders or in detention centres. The latest report from this new Juvenile Justice National Minimum Data Set was released in August 2007 and presents data from 2005-06, with trends from 2000-01 - the first year of data collected (AIHW 2007i). The quality of information collected on the Indigenous status of juvenile justice clients varies according to differing collection and recording practices in the states and territories. Since the first report of the NMDS was released in February 2006, the quality has improved and it is expected that further improvements will be made over the next couple of years as standardised methods are implemented.

Few young people have contact with the juvenile justice system and many who do are diverted from the court when the offences committed are relatively minor and/or are a first offence. Of those young people who do go to court, most receive either non-supervised orders or community-based orders, with only a small proportion of young people placed in juvenile detention centres. Community-based supervision includes supervised bail, probation, community service orders and parole. Detention supervision includes both custodial remand prior to the case being finalised in court and sentenced detention. Juvenile justice supervision includes those under community-based supervision and those in detention.

The rates of juvenile justice supervision for all young people aged 10-17 years show high levels of over-representation of Indigenous youth during the period 2003-04 to 2005-06, relative to the proportion of Indigenous youth in state and territory populations (table 11.7). In 2005-06, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people were under juvenile justice supervision at a rate of 44 per 1,000, compared with a rate of 3 per 1,000 for non-Indigenous young people.

Rates of juvenile justice supervision for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous young people decreased in most states and territories during the period 2003-04 to 2005-06.

11.7 RATES OF YOUNG PEOPLE AGED 10-17 YEARS UNDER JUVENILE JUSTICE SUPERVISION(a)(b), by Indigenous status - 2003-04 to 2005-06

NSW
Vic.
Qld
WA
SA
Tas.(c)
ACT
NT
Australia

2003-04

Indigenous
35.8
26.5
41.6
99.6
63.0
11.9
56.7
21.6
45.1
Non-Indigenous
2.5
2.6
3.6
3.8
4.5
3.8
6.7
3.9
3.1
Total
4.1
2.8
5.8
10.1
6.7
6.3
7.9
11.3
5.1

2004-05

Indigenous
33.8
23.9
39.7
103.4
58.0
14.4
59.3
23.0
44.3
Non-Indigenous
2.5
2.2
3.1
3.8
4.0
4.1
5.8
3.3
2.9
Total
4.0
2.5
5.3
10.2
6.1
6.3
7.1
11.6
4.9

2005-06

Indigenous
34.7
23.8
39.8
106.6
51.4
17.7
44.2
21.2
44.4
Non-Indigenous
2.6
2.0
3.0
4.2
3.9
4.9
5.1
3.5
2.9
Total
4.3
2.6
5.3
10.8
5.8
6.9
6.2
11.2
5.0

(a) Age is calculated as at date of first juvenile justice supervision during the relevant year.
(b) Rates per 1,000 young people. Calculation of rates excludes records for young people whose Indigenous status was not stated. The rates are based on ABS high series 2001 Estimated Resident Indigenous population projections.
(c) Indigenous data for Tasmania may not be reliable due to limitations in the reporting capabilities of the information system.
Source: AIHW 2007i



Community-based supervision

In the period 2000-01 to 2005-06, the average daily number of Indigenous young people in community-based supervision increased by 24% (from 1,579 to 1,961). In comparison, there was a 4% decrease (from 2,980 to 2,853) for non-Indigenous young people over the same period. Part of the increase in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander numbers is likely to be due to a decrease in the number of young people whose Indigenous status was unknown, from 613 to 266 over this period (table 11.8).

11.8 YOUNG PEOPLE, average daily number in community supervision by Indigenous status(a)(b) - 2000-01 to 2005-06

Year
Indigenous
Non-Indigenous
Unknown
Total(c)

2000-01
1 579
2 980
613
5 172
2001-02
1 543
3 026
448
5 017
2002-03
1 674
3 026
407
5 107
2003-04
1 757
2 969
344
5 070
2004-05
1 814
2 833
258
4 905
2005-06
1 961
2 853
266
5 081

(a) Averages are calculated by summing the community supervision days throughout the year and then dividing by 365.25 to get an average daily number. A community supervision day is one day of community-based supervision for one person.
(b) Australian Capital Territory is excluded as data for 2000-01, 2001-02 and 2002-03 were unavailable.
(c) Components may not add to total due to rounding.
Source: AIHW 2007h, 2007i



Detention supervision

In the period 2000-01 to 2005-06, the average daily number of Indigenous young people in detention supervision increased by 11%, from 321 in 2000-01 to 357 in 2005-06 (excluding the Australian Capital Territory for which data from 2000-01 to 2002-03 were unavailable). In comparison, there was a 15% decrease (from 501 to 425) for non-Indigenous young people over this period. The higher number of Indigenous young people in detention supervision may be due, or partly due, to improvements in Indigenous identification, with the average daily number of young people in detention whose Indigenous status was unknown decreasing from 59 to 15 over this period (table 11.9).

11.9 YOUNG PEOPLE, average daily number in detention by Indigenous status(a)(b) - 2000-01 to 2005-06

Year
Indigenous
Non-Indigenous
Unknown
Total(c)

2000-01
321
501
59
881
2001-02
340
501
44
886
2002-03
333
465
35
833
2003-04
346
438
29
814
2004-05
341
406
19
766
2005-06
357
425
15
798

(a) Averages are calculated by summing the detention supervision days throughout the year and then dividing by 365.25 to get an average daily number. A detention supervision day is one day of detention supervision for one person.
(b) Australian Capital Territory is excluded as data for 2000-01, 2001-02 and 2002-03 were unavailable.
(c) Components may not add to total due to rounding.
Source: AIHW 2007h, 2007i



Juvenile justice supervision

Most young people under juvenile justice supervision are in community-based supervision rather than detention (tables 11.8 and 11.9). However, on an average day in 2005-06, Indigenous young people comprised a larger share of those in detention (45%) than those under community-based supervision (38%).

Young Indigenous males under juvenile justice supervision outnumbered Indigenous females by a ratio of four to one. However, Indigenous females comprised a larger share of all females under supervision (45%) than did Indigenous males as a proportion of all males under supervision (37%) (table 11.10).

11.10 YOUNG PEOPLE UNDER JUVENILE JUSTICE SUPERVISION, by Indigenous status and sex - 2005-06

Indigenous status
Males
Females
Total

Number

Indigenous
4 044
1 009
5 054
Non-Indigenous
6 385
1 084
7 470
Unknown/not recorded
602
127
730
Total
11 031
2 220
13 254

Percent

Indigenous
36.7
45.5
38.1
Non-Indigenous
57.9
48.8
56.4
Unknown/not recorded
5.5
5.7
5.5
Total
100.0
100.0
100.0

Source: AIHW 2007i


Most young people under juvenile justice supervision during 2005-06 were aged 16 years or over (64%). However, 14% of Indigenous young people under supervision were aged 13 years or less, compared with only 6% of non-Indigenous young people (table 11.11).

11.11 YOUNG PEOPLE UNDER JUVENILE JUSTICE SUPERVISION, by Indigenous status and age - 2005-06

Age (years)
Indigenous status
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18 and over
Total

Number

Indigenous
20
65
170
430
736
948
1 129
1 094
462
5 054
Non-Indigenous
8
31
64
280
675
1 207
1 835
2 026
1 344
7 470
Unknown/not recorded
-
5
2
19
45
113
175
188
183
730
Total
28
101
236
729
1 456
2 268
3 139
3 308
1 989
13 254

Percent

Indigenous
0.4
1.3
3.4
8.5
14.6
18.8
22.4
21.5
9.2
100.0
Non-Indigenous
0.1
0.4
0.9
3.7
9.0
16.2
24.6
27.1
18.0
100.0
Unknown/not recorded
-
0.7
0.3
2.6
6.2
15.5
24.0
25.8
25.1
100.0
Total
0.2
0.8
1.8
5.5
11.0
17.1
23.7
25.0
15.0
100.0

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
Source: AIHW 2007i


There are also differences in the age at which young people were first placed under juvenile justice supervision. Of those under juvenile justice supervision in 2005-06, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people were younger, on average, at the time of first ever supervision than non-Indigenous young people (graph 11.12). Just over half (56%) of Indigenous young people were aged 14 years or less during their initial supervision, compared with 30% of non-Indigenous young people.

11.12 YOUNG PEOPLE UNDER JUVENILE JUSTICE SUPERVISION, by Indigenous status and age at first supervision - 2005-06
Graph: 11.12 Young people under juvenile justice supervision, by Indigenous status and age at first supervision, 2005-06


The over-representation of Indigenous people in the justice system is not confined to young people. While Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people comprise around 2% of the adult population, they constituted 24% of the average daily number of prisoners in full-time custody and 18% of adults on community corrections orders in the March 2007 quarter (ABS 2007b).



Previous PageNext Page

Bookmark and Share. Opens in a new window


Commonwealth of Australia 2014

Unless otherwise noted, content on this website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia Licence together with any terms, conditions and exclusions as set out in the website Copyright notice. For permission to do anything beyond the scope of this licence and copyright terms contact us.