Indigenous Young People in Detention

In 2017–18, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people (aged 10 to 17 years) in all Australian states and territories were detained in youth detention facilities at a higher rate than non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people. Western Australia had the highest rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth detention at 331.5 per 10,000 young people. Western Australia also had the greatest difference in detention rates between the two groups: the rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people was approximately 27 times the rate for non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people.

Tasmania had the smallest difference in detention rates: the rate of detention for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people was approximately four times the rate for non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people. In Victoria, the rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people was 12 times the rate for non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people.

The gap in detention rates between the two groups narrowed in two states: Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory reported declines of 32% and 30% respectively from 2016–17 to 2017–18. The gap increased in three states: Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia reported increases of 15%, 10% and 9% respectively from 2016–17 to 2017–18.

Note: Data is based on the count of unique persons (aged 10 to 17) in youth detention at any time during the year. Data on the detention rates for non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people for the Northern Territory was not published for 2017–18.

Rates per 10,000 young people (aged 10 to 17 years) in youth detention in 2017–18 by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status

 

Jurisdiction Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rate Non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rate Ratio
Western Australia 331.5 12.5 27
Australian Capital Territory 233.7 22.3 10
South Australia 228.1 9.9 23
Queensland 179.8 8.0 22
New South Wales 168.1 10.7 16
Northern Territory 158.6 n.a. n.a.
Victoria 94.5 7.6 12
Tasmania 30.2 8.3 4
Australia 185.3 9.5 19

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Youth Justice in Australia 2017-18, Cat. no. JUV 129, Supplementary table S85b (2019).