Report on Government Services 2024
PART C: RELEASED ON 29 JANUARY 2024
These data tables relate to the sector as a whole. Data specific to individual service areas is in the data tables under the relevant service area.
- Justice data tables (XLSX 32.4 KB)
- Justice dataset (CSV 35.9 KB)
Refer to the Sector overview text and corresponding table number in the data tables for detailed definitions, caveats, footnotes and data source(s).
Note: Data tables are referenced by table xA.1, xA.2, etc. with x referring to the section or overview. For example, table CA.1 refers to data table 1 for this sector overview.
Main aims of services within the sector
The justice sector services aim to contribute to a safe and secure community and promote a law abiding way of life.
Services included in the sector
- Police services
Deliver services relating to preserving public order, investigating crime and apprehending offenders, improving road safety and supporting the judicial process.
Arbitrate on criminal and civil justice matters. This report focuses on administrative support functions for the courts, such as management of court facilities, services and staffing and the provision of case management services. Judicial decisions and outcomes are not included.
- Corrective services
Administer correctional sanctions imposed by courts and orders of the adult parole boards through the management of adult custodial facilities and community corrections orders, and the provision of programs and services to prisoners and offenders.
- Legal aid, public prosecutions and tribunals are not included as service-specific sections in this report. Justice services for children and young offenders (predominately related to youth community corrections and detention) are covered under youth justice in section 17 of the report.
Detailed information on the equity, effectiveness and efficiency of service provision and the achievement of outcomes for the Police, Courts and Corrective service areas is contained in the service-specific sections.
Government expenditure in the sector
Total government expenditure for the justice services in this report (less revenue from own sources) was almost $23.2 billion in 2022-23 (table CA.1), an annual increase of 3.6% from 2018-19. Police services was the largest contributor (64.8%), followed by corrective services (25.9%) and courts (9.2%). Nationally, expenditure per person on justice services was $883 in 2022‑23 (table CA.2). For the 2021-22 financial year (the most recent financial year for which data are available across all sections), this represented around 6.3% of total government expenditure covered in this report.
Flows in the sector
For criminal matters which come to the attention of authorities, the typical flow of events is investigation by police and, if charges are laid, adjudication by courts with subsequent sentencing if applicable and possible entry into corrective services (adult prison, youth justice or community corrections orders). The roles of police, courts and corrective services, and the sequencing of their involvement, are shown in figure C.1.
Figure C.1 Flows through the criminal justice system a, b, c
[ Investigation and charging ]
[ Adjudication and sentencing ]
[ Managing offenders ]
a Does not account for all variations across Australian, state and territory governments’ criminal justice systems. b The flow diagram is indicative and does not include all complexities of the criminal justice system. c Ex officio indictment refers to a decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to commence criminal proceedings in a higher court without a committal hearing, or where a committal hearing did not result in a case being committed to trial in a higher court.
Figure C.2 is an indicative model of the flows through the civil justice system. While the emphasis is on the flow of disputes which proceed to court, the role of alternative dispute resolution processes is considerable in civil justice in part as it is more available as an early alternative to court adjudication.
Figure C.2 Flows through the civil justice system a, b
a Does not account for all variations across Australian, state and territory governments’ civil justice systems. b The flow diagram is indicative and does not include all complexities of the civil justice system.
One sector-wide proxy indicator of governments’ aim to contribute to a safe and secure community and promote a law abiding way of life is reported.
Re-offending rates show the extent to which people who have had contact with the criminal justice system are re-arrested or return to corrective services (either prison or community corrections). Low or decreasing rates of re-offending may indicate a safer and more secure community environment and the promotion of a more law-abiding way of life – however higher rates may also indicate more effective policing and detection of offences.
Re-offending rates is a proxy indicator as it only reflects those people whose re‑offending has come to the attention of authorities (some offences may go undetected by, or unreported to, police). The restricted time frames for measuring re-offending (one year for police proceedings and two years for return to corrective services) will also underestimate the proportions of offenders who have repeat contact with the criminal justice system beyond those time frames.
Re-offending is measured by:
- the proportion of people aged 10 years or over who were proceeded against more than once by police during the year
- the proportion of adults released from prison after serving a sentence who returned to corrective services (either prison or community corrections) within two years, with a new correctional sanction
- the proportion of adults discharged from community corrections orders who returned to corrective services (either prison or community corrections) with a new correctional sanction within two years.
People proceeded against by police
In each state and territory (except Western Australia, where data was not available), of people aged 10 years or over proceeded against by police in 2021-22, between 67% and 80% were proceeded against only once during the year (table CA.3). The data represent each separate occasion that police initiated a legal action against a person. Depending on the type of offence committed, police will either initiate a court action (laying of charges to be answered in court) or non-court action (which does not require a court appearance, for example warnings and penalty notices).
Adult offenders released from prison
In 2022‑23, 42.5% of prisoners released in 2020-21 after serving a sentence had returned to prison within two years (for New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory this only included prisoners who had returned with a new sentence within two years, for Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory this also included prisoners who had returned to prison on remand within 2 years but were sentenced within 3 years). Some people returning to prison may also have received community corrections orders. In total, 51.7% of released prisoners had returned to corrective services within two years in 2022-23 (either prison or community corrections) (figure C.3). Returns to prison and corrective services were higher in all states and territories for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people than non-Indigenous people (table CA.4).
Adult offenders discharged from community corrections orders
In 2022-23, 14.7% of adults discharged during 2020‑21 after serving orders administered by community corrections returned to community corrections within two years, and 24.3% returned to corrective services (prison or community corrections) (table CA.5).