Australian Bureau of Statistics
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
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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 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.
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).
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).
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).
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).
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
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).
This page last updated 27 May 2010
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