Socioeconomic outcome area 10

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults are not overrepresented in the criminal justice system

TARGET 10

By 2031, reduce the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults held in incarceration by at least 15 per cent.

Nationally at 30 June 2021, the age-standardised rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners was 2222.7 per 100 000 adult population (figure CtG10.1).

This is an increase from 2142.9 per 100 000 adult population in 2019 (the baseline year).

Nationally, based on progress from the baseline, the target is worsening. However, this assessment should be used with caution as it is based on a limited number of data points. Please see the How to interpret the data page for more information.

For states and territories, and nationally, based on progress from the baseline, there has been: Right arrow improvement   square no change   Left arrow worsening    not applicable as required data not available.

The assessment below reflects progress from the baseline (improvement, worsening or no change). The assessments below reflect progress from the baseline (improvement, worsening or no change).
NSW Vic Qld WA SA Tas ACT NT Aust
AssessmentNo changeImprovingWorseningImprovingWorseningWorseningNo changeWorseningWorsening

Right arrow improvement square no change Left arrow worsening not applicable as required data not available. tick good improvement and target on track to be met. circle improvement but target not on track to be met.

Note: These assessments of progress should be used with caution as they are based on a limited number of data points.

Disaggregations

Tables appear directly under figures:

Selections apply to all Disaggregation figures/tables below:

By sex

Nationally at 30 June 2021, the age-standardised rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners per 100 000 people was higher for males (4041.9) compared to females (433.9) (figure CtG10.2).

By age group

Nationally at 30 June 2021, there were 1985.1 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners aged 18-24 years per 100 000 people in the population aged 18-24 years (figure CtG10.3). The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander imprisonment rate increased with age group until peaking at 4286.3 per 100 000 people aged 35-39 years, but declined with each successive age group thereafter (to 363.2 prisoners per 100 000 people aged 55 years or over).

By sex, by age group

Data on imprisonment rates, by Indigenous status, by sex, by age group are available in table CtG10A.5.

Target data specifications

Target 10: Reduce the rate of adults held in incarceration

Outcome:

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are not overrepresented in the criminal justice system.

Target:

By 2031, reduce the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults held in incarceration by at least 15 per cent.

Indicator:

Age-standardised imprisonment rate.

Measure:

The measure is defined as:

Numerator — number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 18 years or over in the legal custody of adult corrective services at 30 June

Denominator — number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 18 years or over at 30 June

and is presented as an age-standardised rate per 100 000 people.

Target established:

National Agreement on Closing the Gap July 2020

Latest dashboard update:

31 March 2022

Indicator type:

Target

Interpretation of change:

A low or decreasing rate is desirable.

Data source(s):

Name (numerator): Prisoners in Australia

Frequency: Annual (revised data for 2019 in the March 2022 Dashboard update).

Name (denominator): Estimates and Projections for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population

Frequency: Annual (revised data for 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 in the March 2022 Dashboard update).

Documentation (links): https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/people/crime-and-justice/prisoners-australia

https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/people/aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-peoples/estimates-and-projections-aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-australians

Data provider:

Provider name: Australian Bureau of Statistics

Provider area: Justice

Baseline year:

2019

Latest reporting period:

2021

Target year:

2031

Disaggregations:

State and territory and Australia, by Indigenous status.

State and territory and Australia, by Indigenous status, by sex.

State and territory and Australia, by Indigenous status, by age group

State and territory and Australia, by Indigenous status, by sex, by age group.

Computation:

Numerator divided by Denominator multiplied by 100 000 and age standardised

Counting rules (excluding disaggregation differences noted above)

From 2019, in all states and territories, persons remanded or sentenced to adult custody are aged 18 years or over.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rate: rates are calculated based on estimates of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population based on Series B projections for 30 June of the relevant calendar year.

Non-Indigenous rate: rates are calculated based on estimates of the non-Indigenous population derived as the difference between the estimated resident population as at 31 March and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population projections as at 30 June for the relevant calendar year.

Age-standardised rate: rates are calculated using the direct method of age standardisation. This is a standard methodology and consists of:

  • calculating a series of crude rates for individual age ranges
  • weighting each of these age ranges by their proportional contribution to a standard population
  • summing the weighted ranges to derive the age-standardised rate.

Disaggregations:

Sex: Sex relates to biological primary sexual characteristics. Prisoners are housed according to sex so are recorded as male and female in that context. Sex is as recorded on the administrative records of the Corrective Services agencies. The standard ABS definition of sex is used, which includes categories for 'Male', 'Female', 'Other' and 'Unknown'. Prisoners classified with 'Other' or 'Unknown' are included in totals (where applicable), very few prisoners have Other or Unknown sex.

Age: Date of birth is used to calculate age at 30 June of the reference year. Prisoners with unavailable/missing date of birth are still included in total counts of prisoners (very few prisoners have an unknown age). Totals for age tables may include prisoners whose age is unknown. Components may not add to total due to the effects of perturbation.

Data quality considerations:

It is not possible to reproduce the exact age-standardised rates as published in the ABS releases on Prisoners in Australia as the rates calculated using the method described above are based on unperturbed data, whereas the published data by age range is perturbed to protect the confidentiality of individuals.

Comparisons of imprisonment rates should be made with care, especially for states and territories with relatively small Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations. Small changes in prisoner numbers can cause variations in rates that do not accurately represent either real trends over time or consistent differences from other jurisdictions.

Future reporting:

Additional disaggregations required for future reporting:

  • Remoteness areas and other small geographic areas (where available)
  • Socioeconomic status of the locality
  • Disability status

Supporting indicators

Driver

  • Proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people charged by police
  • Proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people convicted and sentenced
    By offence and type of sentence
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoner by offence type and number of offences
    Most serious and other offences
  • Proportion of prisoners by legal status
    Sentenced vs unsentenced and by sentence length
  • Number and rate of unique alleged offenders processed by police
  • Proportion of prisoners previously incarcerated
    Number of unique episodes of incarceration
  • Mental health, substance abuse issues, family history of incarceration, employment post release, history of victimisation
  • Entry rate to incarceration
    Newly sentenced to prison

Contextual information

  • Rates of death in prison custody of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners
    By cause of death
  • Proportion spending greater periods of time on remand
  • Progress towards parity

Material for download

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