Who is overrepresented in youth justice statistics?

Dr Russell Reid1

1The Australian Institute Of Health And Welfare, , Australia

In 2016-17 Indigenous Australians aged 10-17 made up 5% of the Australian population in this age group, yet they constituted 48% of community-based supervision orders and 58% of all youth in detention. Young Indigenous Australians are 17 times as likely to be under a community-based supervision order and 24 times as likely to be in detention on an average day as non-Indigenous Australians.  A high level of overrepresentation in the juvenile justice system is also seen among those living in remote areas and low socioeconomic areas. For example, young Australians living in low socioeconomic areas are 7 times as likely to be under a community-based supervision order as those from high socioeconomic areas, and 6 times as likely to be in detention. Further, young Australians from very remote areas are 10 times as likely to be under a community-based supervision order as those in major cities, and 9 times as likely to be in detention. Research suggests that the associations between selected population groups and youth justice are reduced when adjusted for other factors, such as socioeconomic status (e.g. Fergusson et al., 1993). This presentation will describe similarities in youth justice statistics for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, those living in remote areas and areas of socioeconomic disadvantage. The presentation will make the case that these factors are connected and shouldn’t be considered in isolation.


Russell has recently joined the Youth Justice team, having been with the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare since 2015. He is the project manager for the Juvenile Justice National Minimum Dataset and the annual reporting of JJ NMDS data. Russell has a background in mental health research, including five years as the senior mental health research officer at the Department of Defence, and in analysing education and aged care data at AIHW. He holds a PhD in psychology (SCU) and a Master of Applied Statistics (Swinburne).

Australasian Youth Justice Conference

The Australasian Youth Justice Administrators (AYJA) hosts a bi-annual Australasian Youth Justice Conference (AYJC) for academics, practitioners, and government and non-government agencies to drive and showcase youth justice initiatives and innovations nationally and internationally.  Learnings from these conferences contribute to evidence-based responses for youth justice and provide new ideas for youth justice at both a jurisdictional, national and international level.  EMAIL: secretariat@ayja.org.au

AYJA is working in collaboration with Juvenile Justice New South Wales (JJ NSW) and the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) to deliver the third AYJC in 2019.

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