Young people in state care overrepresented in the youth justice system

15 November, 2016

Young people in care are much more likely than their age peers to be involved with the youth justice system and a recent analysis by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW)[1] has demonstrated exactly to what extent.

Of the 30,402 young people involved in the child protection system or under youth justice supervision at some time during 2014–15 in participating  jurisdictions[2], 1,499 (4.9%) were in both child protection and under youth justice supervision in that year.

For the purpose of the following, please note that youth justice supervision refers to both community based supervision and youth detention:

  • young people (aged 10 to 17 years) in the child protection system were 14 times as likely as their peer population to be under youth justice supervision
  • Aboriginal young people in the child protection system were more than twice as likely as non-Aboriginal to be under youth justice supervision (10.4% compared with 4.3%)
  • 40.8% of those in detention were involved in the child protection system which is 19 times the rate for the general population
  • 32.1% of those under community-based supervision also were in the child protection system
  • the younger someone was at their first youth justice supervision, the more likely they were also to be in child protection
  • in South Australia in the same period, of the 827 admissions to youth justice detention, 22.6% were under guardianship of the Minister at the time of admission.3 

The policy and program environment in our state right now is fortunately placed to address the needs of the children and young people who are caught in this ‘cross over’ situation:

  • the creation of a new statutory position – the Training Centre Visitor – under the Youth Justice Administration Act 2016
  • [ddownload id=”7824″ style=”link” text=”research on the program needs of youth justice clients in South Australia”] and
  • the recommended introduction of a Community Visitor Scheme for children and young people in residential care. 

Please join the discussion on child protection reform via the reply box below. 

1 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2016. Young people in child protection and under youth justice supervision 2014–15. Data linkage series no. 22. Cat. no. CSI 24. Canberra: AIHW http://www.aihw.gov.au/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=60129557321

2 New South Wales and the Northern Territory did not contribute data.

3 SA figures are from data supplied the Department for Communities and Social Inclusion – Youth Justice Division.

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