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Juvenile detention rates 1994-2003


The Australian Institute of Criminology has released a publication which provides an overview of juveniles in detention in Australia, commencing in 1981 through to 2003. The data provided by each juvenile justice agency contains the number of young people in detention on the last day of each quarter in the year1. The data indicates there has been a general decline in the number of persons aged 10 to 17 in juvenile detention over this period. At 30 June 1981, 1352 young people were detained in juvenile detention facilities, whereas at 30 June 2003 only 640 juveniles were recorded as detained. Indigenous status is only available from 1994, but the rates of detention for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous young people have been declining since then. For example, the rate of Indigenous persons aged 10 to 17 in juvenile detention has decreased from 413.9 to 320.9 per 100,000 relevant population. However, the ratio of over-representation has remained relatively stable; with Indigenous persons aged 10 to 17 years still almost 20 times more likely to be in detention than non-Indigenous persons of the same age group.

Rate of Indigenous and non-Indigenous persons aged 10 to 17 years in juvenile detention in Australia and Indigenous overrepresentation ratio


* Rate per 100,000 relevant population as at 30 June each year. Rates exclude Tasmanian figures between 30 Sep 1996 and 31 Dec 2002 as data are unavailable.
** The over-representation ratio is the Indigenous rate of detention divided by the non-Indigenous rate of detention For example in 2003, Indigenous juveniles were 19.9 times more likely than non-Indigenous juveniles to be detained in a juvenile justice centre (320.9/16.1=19.9).

1 The census count is taken on the last day of March, June, September and December, therefore reflects only the number of juveniles in each jurisdiction at that time and is not necessarily representative of the actual daily average of juvenile detainees.


  • Charlton K & McCall M 2004. Statistics on juvenile detention in Australia: 1981-2003. Technical and background paper series no 10 Australian Institute of Criminology, Canberra

Cite article

2004. Juvenile detention rates 1994-2003. Crime facts info no. 87. Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology. https://www.aic.gov.au/publications/cfi/cfi087