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Juveniles in detention in Australia, 1981-2005

Technical and background paper no. 22

Natalie Taylor
ISBN 1 921185 28 7 ISSN 1445-7261
Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology, March 2006

Abstract

This paper provides an overview of juveniles in detention in Australia, and contributes to knowledge about the numbers and rates of Indigenous young people placed into detention. The Australian Institute of Criminology Juveniles in Detention Monitoring Program contains census data on the numbers of young people placed into detention, on a quarterly basis, from 1981 to 2005. This report tracks changes over time and provides a statistical overview of the financial year 2004-05. There a number of key findings from this report which are important in terms of policy including:

  1. rates of detention for both males and females have decreased since 1981;
  2. the vast majority of young people in detention are male, with young males being nine times more likely than young females to be in detention at 30 June 2005;
  3. those aged 15 to 17 years constitute the large majority of 10 to 17-year-olds in detention (83% at 30 June 2005); iv) the rates of detention of Indigenous young people aged 10 to 17 years across Australia have decreased by 25% since 1994;
  4. the rates of detention of non-Indigenous young people aged 10 to 17 years across Australia have decreased by 44% since 1994;
  5. the over-representation of Indigenous young people aged 10 to 17 in detention using the rate ratio (Indigenous rate divided by the non-Indigenous rate) remains high and has not decreased since 1994, with Indigenous young people being 23 times more likely than non-Indigenous young people to be in detention at 30 June 2005; and
  6. across Australia about one quarter of those detained in juvenile detention facilities were aged 18 and over.