4517.0 - Prisoners in Australia, 2018 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 06/12/2018   
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SENTENCED PRISONERS

At 30 June 2018:
  • There were 29,030 sentenced prisoners in Australian prisons, an increase of 3% (831 prisoners) from 30 June 2017. Over the past five years to 30 June 2018, the proportion of prisoners that were sentenced decreased from 76% to 68%. (Table 2)
  • The proportion of prisoners that were sentenced varied from 62% in South Australia (1,857 prisoners) and the Australian Capital Territory (305 prisoners) to 72% (4,937 prisoners) in Western Australia. (Table 14)
  • The largest increases in sentenced prisoners were recorded in New South Wales (3% or 258 prisoners) and Queensland (4% or 257 prisoners). South Australia was the only state to record a decrease in the number of sentenced prisoners (1% or 19 prisoners). (Table 27)
  • The median aggregate sentence length for sentenced prisoners was 3.0 years and the median expected time to serve for sentenced prisoners was 1.9 years. (Tables 11 and 12)
  • Just under half of all sentenced prisoners (45% or 13,136) had been sentenced in the previous 12 months. (Table 9)
  • The most common offences for sentenced prisoners were:
    • Acts intended to cause injury (18%);
    • Illicit drug offences (15%);
    • Sexual assault and related offences (14%); and
    • Unlawful entry with intent (11%). (Table 1)

Graph Image for SENTENCED PRISONERS, Most serious offence(a), 30 June 2017 and 30 June 2018

Footnote(s): (a) For a definition of most serious offence, see Explanatory Notes paragraphs 84-86. (b) Offences against justice procedures, government security and operations. (c) Includes divisions 4-5, 8-9, 11-14 and 16 of the ANZSOC and prisoners whose offence is unknown.

Source(s): Prisoners in Australia


  • Acts intended to cause injury was the most common offence for sentenced prisoners in New South Wales (19%), Queensland (18%), Tasmania (22%), the Northern Territory (43%) and the Australian Capital Territory (27%). In South Australia and Victoria, Sexual assault and related offences were the most common sentenced offences, accounting for 17% of prisoners in each state. In Western Australia, the most common offence for sentenced prisoners was Illicit drug offences (20%). (Table 23)
  • Of the 4,328 sentenced prisoners with Illicit drug offences, approximately two-thirds (69% or 2,985 prisoners) had an offence of Deal or traffic in illicit drugs. (Table 23)

Graph Image for PROPORTION OF SENTENCED PRISONERS, Selected offence(a), States and territories, 30 June 2018

Footnote(s): (a) For a definition of most serious offence, see Explanatory Notes paragraphs 84-86.

Source(s): Prisoners in Australia


  • The median aggregate sentence length for sentenced prisoners was highest in South Australia (4.4 years) and lowest in the Northern Territory (1.5 years). (Table 24)