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Report on Government Services 2022

PART F, SECTION 17: RELEASED ON 25 JANUARY 2022

17 Youth justice services

This section is presented in a new online format. Dynamic data visualisations replace the static chapter format used in previous editions. Machine readable data are also available for download. A guide is available on accessing information in the new format.

Impact of COVID-19 on data for the Youth justice services section

COVID-19 may affect data in this Report in a number of ways. This includes in respect of actual performance (that is, the impact of COVID-19 on service delivery during 2020 and 2021, which is reflected in the data results), and the collection and processing of data (that is, the ability of data providers to undertake data collection and process results for inclusion in the Report).

For the Youth justice services section, there is little evidence of significant changes to the data nationally as a result of COVID-19 though some impacts were seen in data for NSW and Victoria. In 2020-21, there was a significant reduction in the number of escorted movements in NSW. While in Victoria over the same period there was a significant reduction in the number of group conferences.

This section reports on the performance of governments in providing youth justice services.

The Indicator Results tab uses data from the data tables to provide information on the performance for each indicator in the Indicator Framework. The same data are also available in CSV format.

Skip to downloadable Youth justice services data tables

  • Context
  • Indicator framework
  • Indicator results
  • Indigenous data
  • Key terms and references

Objectives for youth justice services

Youth justice services aim to promote community safety, rehabilitate and reintegrate young people who offend, and contribute to a reduction in youth re-offending.

To achieve these aims, governments seek to provide youth justice services that:

  • divert young people who offend from further progression into the youth justice system to alternative services
  • assist young people who offend to address their offending behaviour
  • provide a safe and secure environment for the protection of young people during their time in detention
  • assist young people who are in youth justice detention to return to the community
  • promote the importance of the families and communities of young people who offend, particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, in the provision of services and programs
  • support young people to understand the impact of their offending on others, including victims and the wider community
  • recognise the rights of victims.

Governments aim for youth justice services to meet these objectives in an equitable and efficient manner.

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Service overview

Youth justice systems are responsible for administering justice to those who have committed or allegedly committed an offence while considered by law to be a child or young person (predominantly aged 10–17 years).

The youth justice system in each State and Territory comprises:

  • police, who are usually a young person’s first point of contact with the system, and are typically responsible for administering the options available for diverting young people from further involvement in the youth justice system (section 6)
  • courts (usually a special children’s or youth court), where matters relating to the charges against young people are heard. The courts are largely responsible for decisions regarding bail, remand and sentencing (section 7)
  • statutory youth justice agencies, which are responsible for the supervision and case management of young people on a range of legal and administrative orders, and for the provision of a wide range of services intended to reduce and prevent crime
  • non-government and community service providers, who may work with youth justice agencies to provide services and programs for young people under supervision.

This section reports on services provided by statutory youth justice agencies that are responsible for the supervision and case management of young people who have committed or allegedly committed an offence; in particular, community-based supervision, detention-based supervision and group conferencing (see the ‘Key terms and references’ tab for definitions).

Roles and responsibilities

State and Territory governments have responsibility for funding and/or providing youth justice services in Australia. Each jurisdiction has its own legislation that determines the policies and practices of its youth justice system and while this legislation varies in detail, its intent is similar across jurisdictions.

Legislation in all jurisdictions requires that the offence giving rise to youth justice involvement be committed while a young person is aged between 10–17 years (in Queensland, it was 10–16 years until February 2018, after which it became 10–17 years)1.

However, youth justice agencies might continue their involvement with these young people after they reach adulthood, for example, where young people turn 18 years of age while on an order. In five jurisdictions (Victoria, Queensland, WA, SA and Tasmania) there is no upper age limit for youth justice involvement. In NSW, the ACT and the NT, the upper age limits for youth justice involvement are 21.5 years, 21 years, and 18 years, respectively.

Diversion of young offenders

In all jurisdictions, police have responsibility for administering options for diverting young people who have committed (or allegedly committed) relatively minor offences from further involvement in the youth justice system. Diversionary options include warnings (informal cautions), formal cautions, and infringement notices. Responsibility for administering the diversionary processes available for more serious offences lies with youth justice authorities, courts and in some cases, other agencies. Comparable and complete national data are yet to become available to illustrate the nature or level of diversion undertaken by Australian jurisdictions.

  1. On 12 February 2018, the Youth Justice and Other Legislation (Inclusion of 17-year-old Persons) Amendment Act 2016 commenced in Queensland, increasing the age that a person can be charged as an adult from 17 to 18 years. This brings Queensland legislation in line with all other Australian jurisdictions and resulted in an increase in the numbers of young people supervised by the youth justice system in Queensland and nationally in 2017-18. The 2018-19 financial year was the first full reporting period for Queensland that includes 10 to 17 year old offenders. Locate Footnote 1 above

Funding

The youth justice expenditure data included in this Report are based on the total costs incurred by governments in supervising young offenders of any age, where the offence giving rise to youth justice supervision was committed while the young person was aged 10–17 years (table 17A.10). At present, there are differences across jurisdictions in the calculation of youth justice expenditure (tables 17.6 and 17A.11). It is expected that the quality and comparability of youth justice expenditure data will improve over time.

Total recurrent expenditure on detention-based supervision, community-based supervision and group conferencing was $1.1 billion nationally in 2020-21, with detention-based supervision accounting for the majority of this expenditure (64.6 per cent, or $723.9 million) (table 17A.10). Nationally in 2020-21, recurrent expenditure on youth justice services per young person in the population aged 10–17 years (as distinct from per youth justice client, which is reported as a performance indicator under the 'Indicator results' tab) was $450 (figure 17.1).

Size and scope

The average daily number of young people aged 10–17 years under youth justice supervision in Australia in 2020-21 was 3457 (table 17A.1). Of the young people under supervision on an average day in 2020-21, over 80 per cent were supervised in the community (includes supervised bail, probation and parole), with the remainder in detention (table 17A.1 and figure 17.2).

Nationally in 2020-21, the average daily rate of detention was 2.6 per 10 000 young people (figure 17.3a), and the average daily rate of community based supervision was 11.4 per 10 000 young people (figure 17.3b) — with both rates the lowest for the seven years of reported data.

Centre utilisation (which is based on the number of all young people in detention centres as a proportion of the number of permanently funded beds) decreased in most jurisdictions and nationally between 2019-20 and 2020-21 (table 17A.2), and is at its lowest level in the seven years of reported data. Operating youth justice detention centres at below full capacity assists to maintain a safe operating environment for young offenders.

Most of the young people aged 10–17 years supervised by youth justice agencies are males (in 2020-21, 89.7 per cent in detention and 77.3 per cent in the community) (tables 17A.3−4).

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people are overrepresented in the youth justice system, and to a slightly greater extent in detention-based supervision (18 times the rate for non-Indigenous young people nationally in 2020-21) (figure 17.4a) compared to community-based supervision (16 times the rate for non-Indigenous young people nationally in 2020-21) (figure 17.4b).

Data on detention rates and community-based supervision rates, by Indigenous status from 2014-15 are available in tables 17A.5 and 17A.6 respectively. Data from 2014-15 on average daily rates of detention and community-based supervision, and rate ratios, are available in tables 17A.7 and 17A.8.

Additional data are provided on the age of children under youth justice supervision. These data are based on aggregate counts of all children under youth justice supervision during the year (not average daily counts as are used for other reporting in this section).

Nationally, 467 children in community-based supervision (5.7 per cent) and 444 children in detention (10.4 per cent) were 10–13 years old (table 17A.9). In both community-based supervision and detention, more than half of children aged 10–13 years were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children (table 17A.9). Adjusting for different population sizes, the rate of community-based supervision for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 10–13 years was 39 times the rate for non-Indigenous children, and in detention was 28 times the rate for non-Indigenous children (figure 17.5a). The rate ratios are lower for those aged 14–17 years (14:1 for community-based supervision and 13:1 for detention) (figure 17.5b).

The performance indicator framework provides information on equity, efficiency and effectiveness, and distinguishes the outputs and outcomes of youth justice services.

The performance indicator framework shows which data are complete and comparable in this Report. For data that are not considered directly comparable, text includes relevant caveats and supporting commentary. Section 1 discusses data comparability and completeness from a Report-wide perspective. In addition to the contextual information for this service area (see Context tab), the Report’s statistical context (Section 2) contains data that may assist in interpreting the performance indicators presented in this section.

Improvements to performance reporting for youth justice services are ongoing and include identifying data sources to fill gaps in reporting for performance indicators and measures, and improving the comparability and completeness of data.

Outputs

Outputs are the services delivered (while outcomes are the impact of these services on the status of an individual or group) (see section 1). Output information is critical for equitable, efficient and effective management of government services.

Outcomes

Outcomes are the impact of services on the status of an individual or group (see section 1).

Indicator framework

An overview of the Youth justice services performance indicator results are presented. Different delivery contexts, locations and types of clients can affect the equity, effectiveness and efficiency of youth justice services. Performance indicator results may differ from similar data included in jurisdictions’ annual reports due to different counting rules applied for these jurisdictional reports.

Information to assist the interpretation of these data can be found with the indicators below and all data (footnotes and data sources) are available for download from Download supporting material. Data tables are identified by a ‘17A’ prefix (for example, table 17A.1).

All data are available for download as an excel spreadsheet and as a CSV dataset — refer to Download supporting material. Specific data used in figures can be downloaded by clicking in the figure area, navigating to the bottom of the visualisation to the grey toolbar, clicking on the 'Download' icon and selecting 'Data' from the menu. Selecting 'PDF' or 'Powerpoint' from the 'Download' menu will download a static view of the performance indicator results.

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1. Equitable access to youth justice services

‘Equitable access to youth justice services’ is an indicator of governments' objective to provide youth justice services in an equitable manner.

‘Equitable access to youth justice services’ is defined as the proportion of young people required to enter youth justice services who receive equitable access to particular processes or services within the system.

A lack of access to particular services (including specialised services and community-based programs) or justice processes when in the system can create barriers to equitable treatment and ultimately to outcomes. For example, if a young person cannot access a community-based program due to requirements such as age, gender, location or living arrangement, and that program is available to other young people, then the young person does not have equitable access.

High or increasing proportions of young people who enter these services who receive equitable treatment through access to particular services and processes is desirable.

Data are not yet available for reporting against this indicator.

2. Timely access to diversionary services

'Timely access to diversionary services’ is an indicator of governments’ objective to divert young people who offend from further progression into the youth justice system to alternative services.

‘Timely access to diversionary services’ is defined as the proportion of diversionary services accessed by young people within a specified time period.

A high or increasing proportion of diversionary services accessed within the specified time period is desirable.

Data are not yet available for reporting against this indicator.

3. Group conferencing agreements

‘Group conferencing agreements’ is a partial indicator of governments’ objective to divert young people who offend from further progression into the youth justice system to alternative services, and to recognise the rights of victims.

‘Group conferencing agreements’ is defined as the number of young people who receive group conferencing and who as a result reach an agreement, as a proportion of all young people who receive group conferencing.

Data for this indicator should be interpreted with caution as group conferencing differs across jurisdictions in relation to:

  • its place in the court process (for example, whether young people are referred by police before court processes begin, or by the court as an alternative to sentencing)
  • whether the agreement requires all conference participants to agree
  • the consequences for young people if they do not comply with the outcome plans of a conference
  • eligibility.

In addition, while all jurisdictions provide the opportunity for victims and/or their representatives to be involved in-group conferencing, thereby recognising the rights of victims and resulting in many benefits for all parties, the level of involvement should reflect the needs and desires of the victim. Therefore, not all group conferences or group conferencing agreements will involve the victim as part of the process or agreement

A high or increasing rate of young people receiving group conferencing, and for whom an agreement is reached, is desirable.

Nationally in 2020‑21, 93.5 per cent of all concluded group conferences resulted in an agreement. These results have been broadly consistent since 2014‑15 (figure 17.6). Nationally in 2020‑21, 91.6 per cent of concluded group conferences for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people resulted in agreement (table 17A.12).

4. Case plans prepared

‘Case plans prepared’ is an indicator of governments’ objective to assist young people who offend to address their offending behaviour.

‘Case plans prepared’ is defined as the number of eligible young people who had a documented case plan prepared or reviewed within 6 weeks of commencing:

  • a sentenced community-based order, as a proportion of all young people commencing a sentenced community-based order
  • a sentenced detention order, as a proportion of all young people commencing a sentenced detention order.

Case plans are formal written plans that assess a young person’s risks and needs for general safety and rehabilitation for specific offending behaviours. An eligible young person is one who is serving a sentenced order that requires case management.

A high or increasing proportion of case plans prepared is desirable.

Nationally (excluding WA and the NT), 87.9 per cent of eligible young people had a case plan prepared within six weeks of commencing a sentenced community‑based order in 2020‑21 (figure 17.7a). This proportion has fluctuated over the past seven years (table 17A.13).

Nationally (excluding the NT), 97.5 per cent of eligible young people had a case plan prepared within six weeks of commencing a sentenced detention order in 2020‑21 (figure 17.7b). This proportion has remained relatively stable over the past seven years (table 17A.13).

5. Secure housing on exit

‘Secure housing on exit’ is an indicator of governments’ objective to assist young people who are in youth justice detention to return to the community.

‘Secure housing on exit’ is defined as the proportion of young people who exit youth justice detention to a stable, permanent housing arrangement.

Ensuring young people have suitable, stable accommodation is a critical factor in preventing offending and reoffending, and is a core component of reintegrating young people into the community post‑detention. Lack of suitable housing options can contribute to overuse of custodial supervision orders (Supervised Release Review Board 2012; Patel 2004).

A high or increasing percentage of young people who exit youth justice detention to a stable, permanent housing arrangement is desirable.

Data are not yet available for reporting against this indicator.

6. Education and training attendance

‘Education and training attendance’ is an indicator of governments’ objective to assist young people who are in youth justice detention to return to the community.

‘Education and training attendance’ is defined by two measures:

  • the number of young people of compulsory school age in detention attending an education course, as a percentage of all young people of compulsory school age in detention.
  • the number of young people not of compulsory school age in detention attending an education or training course, as a percentage of all young people not of compulsory school age in detention.

Compulsory school age refers to specific State and Territory governments’ requirements for a young person to participate in school, which are based primarily on age (see section 4 in this Report for further information). Education or training course refers to school education or an accredited education or training course under the Australian Qualifications Framework.

High or increasing proportions of young people attending education and training are desirable.

Exclusions include young people not under youth justice supervision and young people whose situation might preclude their participation in education programs (includes those on temporary leave such as work release; medically unable to participate; in isolation; a risk assessment resulting in exclusion from education; attending court; or on remand or sentenced for fewer than 7 days).

The method for counting young people attending education differs across jurisdictions, with one of the following three methods used: (1) an exceptions basis where the number of young people who do not attend is recoded and it is taken that all other young people are attending, (2) daily data averaged over the number of school days in the financial year, or (3) averaging the number of young people as at the second last day of each school term or an alternative day as required.

Nationally (excluding the NT) in 2020-21, 100.0 per cent of young people in detention and of compulsory school age were attending an education course and 99.7 per cent of young people in detention not of compulsory school age were attending an accredited education or training course (table 17.1). Most jurisdictions recorded 100 per cent for both measures, including for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people.

7. Family engagement with youth justice services

‘Family engagement with youth justice services’ is an indicator of government’s objective to promote the importance of the families of young people who offend, in particular Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, in the provision of services and programs.

‘Family engagement with youth justice services’ is defined by three measures:

  • the proportion of young people participating in group conferencing whose family is engaged
  • the proportion of young people subject to community-based supervision whose family is engaged
  • the proportion of young people subject to detention-based supervision who have contact with their family.

High or increasing proportions of young people receiving youth justice services whose families engage with youth justice services is desirable.

Data are not yet available for reporting against this indicator.

8. Completion of programs that aim to address offending behaviour

‘Completion of programs that aim to address offending behaviour’ is a proxy indicator of governments’ objective to support young people to understand the impact of their offending on others, including victims and the wider community.

‘Completion of programs that aim to address offending behaviour’ is defined as the proportion of young people referred to programs that aim to address offending behaviour, who complete the program.

A high or increasing proportion of young people completing these programs is desirable.

This indicator is a proxy indicator and needs to be interpreted with care. Completion of a program that aims to address offending behaviour may not change the young person’s understanding of the impact of their behaviour.

Data are not yet available for reporting against this indicator. Table 17.2 provides summary information about programs available to young offenders that aim to address their offending behaviour.

Table 17.2 Programs to address offending behaviour
NSW NSW uses the Youth Level of Service/Case Management Inventory to assess young offenders’ level of risk and to develop individualised case management plans in response to identified criminogenic needs. Changing Habits and Reaching Targets (CHART) is the primary offence focused intervention used across NSW. CHART is a cognitive behavioural program that can be adapted to each young offenders’ criminogenic needs and is facilitated by caseworkers in community and custody. Other programs delivered to young offenders in NSW include: X-Roads, an individual intervention for young people with significant substance misuse issues; Dthina Yuwali, an Aboriginal-specific Alcohol and Other Drugs group work program; and My Journey My Life, a group program for young Aboriginal males that aims to reduce the incidence of family and inter-generational violence. NSW also funds non-government organisations to provide a Rural Residential Alcohol and Other Drug Rehabilitation program, the Youth on Track early intervention scheme, an Aboriginal Reintegration and Transition program, a Veterans Mentoring program and other case management, mentoring and accommodation support programs.
Vic Victoria offers a range of offending-specific programs in conjunction with a comprehensive individualised case planning framework (including assessment and client service planning). ‘Changing Habits and Reaching Targets’ (CHART) is a structured intervention program which challenges offending behaviour. CHART is used as part of casework intervention with individuals or in small groups. The ‘Male Adolescent Program for Positive Sexuality’ is an intensive individual, group and family treatment program for young people found guilty of sexual offences. Victoria has introduced a new violence reduction program aimed at reducing the likelihood of future violent offending by young people. The Adolescent Violence Intervention Program (AVIP) is a multi-modular Cognitive Behavioural Therapy intervention that targets factors that research consistently shows are associated with violence in young people. The ‘Motor Vehicle Offending Program’ is provided in conjunction with the Transport Accident Commission and Road Trauma Support Unit. It addresses specific behaviours related to motor vehicle offences.
Qld In the Queensland youth justice system, a young person’s risk, needs and responsivity are assessed using the Youth Level of Service Case Management Inventory (YLS-CMI 2.0™) to inform level of supervision, service and targeted interventions. Youth Justice has a suite of evidence-informed therapeutic programs that address criminogenic needs and specific offending behaviours in both community and detention settings across our state. These programs include: Transition to Success (T2S), Integrated Case Management (ICM), Changing Habits and Reaching Targets (CHART), Aggression Replacement Training (ART®), Emotional Regulation and Impulse Control (ERIC), Rethinking Our Attitudes to Driving (ROAD); and two culturally specific programs: Young Black and Proud (YBP) and Black Chicks Talking (BCT). Additionally, Youth Justice delivers a range of interventions aimed at improving outcomes across cultural connection, health and wellbeing, participation in learning and engagement in employment, housing stability, family relationships and connection to community. These outcomes align across strategic initiatives that collaborate across other departments and agencies to, intervene early, keep children out of court and custody, reduce reoffending and keep communities safe. As part of ongoing reform of Queensland’s youth justice system, programs will continue to be subject to monitoring and evaluation informing the continuous development and implementation of evidence-based responses for reducing offending and re-offending by young people. Monitoring and evaluation design and implementation processes are informed and underpinned by the Youth Justice Framework for Practice, the Standardised Program Evaluation Protocol™ as well as best practice research and evaluation methodologies.
WA

Youth Justice Services (YJS) provides a range of programs to young people in the community and in custody across Western Australia. These programs seek to address health, rehabilitative, recreational, cultural and educational needs and are delivered by either Departmental staff or external service providers.

New service agreements, which incorporate the Aboriginal Youth Services Investment Priorities and Principles, commenced on 1 January 2017. The programs are implemented across the state in the community and in Banksia Hill Detention Centre, with the majority of programs delivered across the custodial and community settings including a through care component to ensure young people have access to supports throughout their contact with the youth justice system.

The new service agreements were the first agreements for the Department to include a requirement for service providers to adhere to the Principles for Child Safety in Organisations, endorsed by the Australian Children’s Commissioners and Guardians.

SA

Youth Justice Services case management has an individualised approach to service delivery, focused on engagement, goal setting and goal achievement. Case management places substantial emphasis on a rehabilitative approach and reconnecting to the community.

A range of services are available for young people at the Kurlana Tapa Youth Justice Centre including access to a range of health professionals. There is also an emphasis on community reintegration and staff are trained in behaviour support techniques to de-escalate behaviour.

The Youth Justice Assessment and Intervention Services multidisciplinary team conducts a range of assessments including criminogenic risk and mental health assessments to inform service delivery and therapeutic activities for young people.

During 2020-21, Youth Justice Services commenced work to strengthen the therapeutic environment at Kurlana Tapa Youth Justice Centre, including the development of a pilot Enhanced Support Team. The Enhanced Support Team will improve responses for young people with complex needs, including those with a disability.

Youth Justice Services, together with its sector partners, delivers or facilitates delivery of a range of programs for young people. These include therapeutic interventions, life skill development and social integration that build engagement back to community. Examples of rehabilitation programs offered include:

  • CHART (Changing Habits and Reaching Targets) is used as part of case management/statutory supervision. It uses a skills oriented, cognitive behavioural focus to challenge offending behaviour for young people who require a moderate to high level of intervention to reduce their risk of reoffending. The focus for delivery is to use participatory learning methods and to be responsive to client needs, motivations and learning styles. It also includes discretionary modules, which contribute to an individualised approach.
  • Ignition which focuses on improving social and independent living skills through weekly workshops and links to the Integrated Housing Exists Program accommodation and support to maintain a property.
  • The KIND program is a tailored intervention for adolescents who perpetrate family or dating violence. The frameworks underpinning KIND are those of restorative justice, assertive engagement, family systems therapy and trauma informed care and works with victims of the violence where possible. The KIND program aims to improve the safety and wellbeing of young people by assisting them to make changes in four key domains: Kinship, Improved relationships, No violence and Developing Skills.

Aboriginal children and young people and their families are provided with access to a range of cultural support services, such as the Journey to Respect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander specific intergenerational violence prevention program and the Respect Sista Girls 2 program, for Aboriginal girls in custody. Yarning Circles are run for Aboriginal girls and boys within Kurlana Tapa.

Tas Tasmania utilises the Youth Level of Service/Case Management Inventory risk assessment tool and the Changing Habits and Reaching Targets (CHART) offending behaviour program. The tools support a modular and structured approach to working with young people who are at a high risk of reoffending. Tasmania also sources expertise from a range of government, non-government and community based services to provide offending-specific programs to young people based on their assessed risk and need. The community-based Targeted Youth Support Service provides intensive case management and interventions for vulnerable young people and their families. The target groups for this service are young people identified as having significant and/or multiple risk issues and without intensive support, young people known to child protection, and young people at risk of entry and/or escalation within the youth justice system. Save the Children runs two (state-wide) programs: the Transition from Detention program assists young people to reintegrate back into the community after being detained in Ashley Youth Detention Centre, and the Supporting Young People on Bail Program which supports young people placed on Court Bail.
ACT The ACT develops bespoke programs to meet the individual needs of young people, utilising experts in the field to ensure the best outcomes. In addition, the ACT utilises the offending-specific program Changing Habits and Reaching Targets (CHART). CHART is designed specifically for young people assessed as moderate to high-risk of reoffending. This behaviour program is used by staff as part of their case work intervention either with individuals or with small groups of two to three clients. CHART is evidence-based and is informed by the ‘What Works’ approach to offender rehabilitation. This approach is characterised by the application of five basic principles of good practice for effective interventions: risk, needs, responsiveness, program integrity and professional discretion.
NT The NT provides a number of offending-specific programs to assist young people and inmates in contact with the criminal justice system. Programs offered in the NT include: sex offender treatment programs; violent offender treatment programs; the Safe, Sober, Strong Program; and the Family Violence Program. These programs are offered to inmates in adult correctional centres and youth detention centres. The programs are facilitated by psychologists and social workers with experience in these areas. The Intensive Alcohol and Drug Program is facilitated and run by non-government organisations. In addition, individual treatment programs are provided to inmates and young people with an identified need for specific treatment programs. The programs are based on cognitive behavioural therapy. A ‘hands on’ approach, as distinct from a ‘classroom style’ approach, has been adopted in facilitating these programs to reflect cultural differences, language difficulties and lower literacy levels which inmates or youth detainees in these programs may experience. The NT adult correctional and youth justice systems have a disproportionately high number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in custody or detention. Accordingly, input has been provided by an Indigenous Torres Strait Islander Consultative Committee and from Indigenous employees attached to the Offender Services, Programs and Indigenous Affairs Division to ensure programs are relevant and appropriate.

Source: State and Territory governments (unpublished).

9. Deaths in custody

‘Deaths in custody’ is an indicator of governments’ objective to provide a safe and secure environment for the protection of young people during their time in detention.

‘Deaths in custody’ is defined as the number of young people who died while in custody.

Zero deaths or a decreasing number of deaths in custody is desirable.

Deaths are restricted to those that occurred while the young person was in the legal and/or physical custody of a youth justice agency or en route to an external medical facility (even if not escorted by youth justice agency workers). Deaths from apparently natural causes are included.

No young people died while in the legal or physical custody of an Australian youth justice agency in 2020‑21 (table 17.3).

10. Assaults in custody

‘Assaults in custody’ is an indicator of governments’ objective to provide a safe and secure environment for the protection of young people during their time in detention.

‘Assaults in custody’ is defined by two measures:

  • the rate of young people who are seriously assaulted (that is, sustain an injury that requires hospitalisation or any act of sexual assault) due to an act perpetrated by one or more young people, per 10 000 custody nights.
  • the rate of young people who are assaulted (that is, sustain an injury, but do not require hospitalisation) due to an act perpetrated by one or more young people, per 10 000 custody nights.

If a young person is injured in more than one separate incident then each incident is counted. If multiple young people are injured, then each young person is counted. The rates of staff who are seriously assaulted and assaulted are included as contextual information to assist with interpreting this indicator.

Injuries resulting from a range of actions are captured. Types of actions that constitute assaults include intentional acts of direct infliction of force and violence (for example, fistfights) and intentional acts of indirect and non‑confrontational force or violence (for example, administering illicit drugs or poison, spiking food or drink, and setting traps). Types of injuries include bruises, cuts or lacerations, open wounds, fractured or broken bones or teeth, burns or scalds, poisoning, dislocations and sprains, and concussions.

Zero or low, or decreasing rates of assaults in custody are desirable.

Data reported for this indicator need to be interpreted with caution. The thresholds for recording an assault and the extent to which minor injuries are included may differ across jurisdictions. The evidence and information used to determine whether an injury has been sustained, and an assault should be recorded, varies across jurisdictions.

Because of their age and vulnerability, the duty of care required for young people in detention is greater than might be the case in adult custodial facilities. In discharging their duty of care to young people in detention, youth justice agencies aim to create safe and secure environments in which typical adolescent development can occur and in which young people can socialise with others in a positive and constructive way prior to their release back into their families and communities.

Nationally in 2020‑21, 21 young people were reported as injured in custody due to a serious assault (table 17.4a).

Nationally in 2020‑21, 356 young people were reported as injured in custody due to an assault (excluding serious assaults) (table 17.4b).

11. Self-harm and attempted suicide in custody

‘Self-harm and attempted suicide in custody’ is an indicator of governments’ objective to provide a safe and secure environment for the protection of young people during their time in detention.

‘Self-harm and attempted suicide in custody’ is defined by two measures:

  • the rate of incidents of self-harm or attempted suicide in custody requiring hospitalisation, per 10 000 custody nights
  • the rate of incidents of self-harm or attempted suicide in custody not requiring hospitalisation, per 10 000 custody nights.

The number of young people who self‑harmed or attempted suicide is reported as contextual information to assist with interpreting the results. An incident is counted each time a young person self‑harms or attempts suicide. Therefore, the number of incidents and the number of young people will differ when one young person has self‑harmed on two or more occasions in the reporting period, as each occasion will be counted as a separate incident.

Types of self‑inflicted incidents that constitute self‑harm include poisoning, hanging, attempted strangulation, suffocation, drowning or electrocution, submersion in water, burning, cutting, jumping from a high place, and jumping or lying in front of a moving object.

Zero or low, or decreasing rates of self-harm or attempted suicide in custody are desirable.

Data reported for this indicator need to be interpreted with caution. Methods of data collection vary across jurisdictions and their ability to report is dependent on the documentation of relevant incidents.

Nationally in 2020‑21 (excluding WA), 30 incidents of self‑harm or attempted suicide requiring hospitalisation and a further 270 incidents of self‑harm or attempted suicide not requiring hospitalisation were reported (tables 17.5a and 17.5b).

12. Cost per young person subject to community-based supervision

‘Cost per young person subject to community-based supervision’ is an indicator of governments’ objective to provide youth justice services in an efficient manner.

‘Cost per young person subject to community-based supervision’ is defined as recurrent expenditure on community-based supervision per day, divided by the average daily number of young people subject to community-based supervision.

  • Recurrent expenditure per day is calculated as annual recurrent expenditure divided by 365.25.
  • The average daily number of young people is calculated by summing the number of days each young person spends under supervision during the year (irrespective of age) and dividing this total by the number of days in the same year.

A low or decreasing average cost per day per young person is desirable as it suggests more efficient resource management.

Nationally in 2020‑21, the average cost per day per young person subject to community‑based supervision was $247. These data fluctuate across jurisdictions (figure 17.8).

13. Cost per young person subject to detention-based supervision

‘Cost per young person subject to detention-based supervision’ is an indicator of governments’ objective to provide youth justice services in an efficient manner.

‘Cost per young person subject to detention-based supervision’ is defined as recurrent expenditure on detention-based supervision per day, divided by the average daily number of young people subject to detention-based supervision.

  • Recurrent expenditure per day is calculated as annual recurrent expenditure divided by 365.25.
  • The average daily number of young people is calculated by summing the number of days each young person spends under supervision during the year (irrespective of age) and dividing this total by the number of days in the same year.

A low or decreasing average cost per day per young person is desirable as it suggests more efficient resource management.

Nationally in 2020‑21, the average cost per day per young person subject to detention‑based supervision was $2518, an increase of 34 per cent from 2019-20 ($1883) (figure 17.9). This national increase was driven by both an increase in expenditure and decrease in the average daily number of young people in detention (table 17A.21).

14. Cost per group conference

‘Cost per group conference’ is an indicator of governments’ objective to provide youth justice services in an efficient manner.

‘Cost per group conference’ is defined as the total recurrent expenditure on group conferencing divided by the number of concluded group conferences.

A low or decreasing unit cost is desirable as it suggests more efficient resource management.

Data for this indicator should be interpreted with caution as the provision of group conferencing differs across jurisdictions.

Nationally in 2020‑21, the average cost per concluded group conference was $6094. These data fluctuate across jurisdictions (figure 17.10).

12a–14a. Interpreting costs data

The unit costs presented for these efficiency indicators may differ to unit costs reported in jurisdiction-specific annual reports due to different methods of calculation.

Efficiency indicators cannot be interpreted in isolation and should be considered in conjunction with other indicators. A low cost per young person subject to community-based supervision could reflect less investment in rehabilitation programs to address a young person’s offending needs, or less intensive case management of young people on community-based supervision orders. Unit costs are also affected by differences in the profile of young offenders, geographic dispersion and other factors that limit opportunities to reduce overheads through economies of scale.

In addition, the average daily costs of supervising young offenders are significantly higher than unit costs for adult offenders. This is likely to be explained by more extensive supervision requirements when working with minors and the more limited opportunity for economies of scale in smaller youth justice systems.

Differences across jurisdictions in the calculation of youth justice expenditure are listed in table 17.6.

Table 17.6 Comparability of government recurrent expenditure — items included, 2020-21
  NSWVicQldWASATasACTNT
Salary expenses & expenses in the nature of salaryIncludeditem includeditem includeditem includeditem includeditem includeditem includeditem includeditem included
Method Accrual Actuals Actuals Actuals Accrual Funding Accrual Funding
Administrative expenditureIncludeditem includeditem includeditem includeditem not includeditem includeditem includeditem includeditem included
Method Other Actuals Actuals not applicable Actuals Actuals Accrual Direct costs
Client costsIncludeditem includeditem includeditem includeditem includeditem includeditem includeditem includeditem included
Other operating expenses (eg, utilities, maintenance)Includeditem includeditem includeditem includeditem includeditem includeditem includeditem includeditem included
Debt servicing feesIncluded

not applicable

not applicable

item not includeditem includeditem included

not applicable

item includeditem included
Annual depreciationIncludeditem includeditem includeditem includeditem includeditem includeditem includeditem includeditem included
Method Straight line Straight line Actuals Straight line Straight line Actuals Straight line Straight line
Umbrella department costsIncluded

not applicable

item includeditem includeditem not includeditem includeditem includeditem includeditem included
Methodnot applicable Pro rata Actuals not applicable Actuals Dept formula FTE employees Dept formula

Dept = Departmental
two dots Not applicable. tick Item included. cross Item not included.

Source: State and Territory governments (unpublished).

15. Escapes

‘Escapes’ is an indicator of governments’ objective to promote community safety.

‘Escapes’ is defined by two measures:

  • the rate of young people who escape from a youth justice detention centre, per 10 000 custody nights.
  • the rate of young people who escape during periods of escorted movement, per 10 000 escorted movements.

An escape from a youth justice detention centre is defined as a breach of a secure perimeter or defined boundary of a detention centre, by a young person under the supervision of the centre.

A period of escorted movement is defined as a period of time during which a young person is in the custody of the youth justice agency while outside a detention centre, and ends when the young person is returned to the detention centre, or is no longer in the legal or physical custody of the youth justice agency. An escape from an escorted movement is defined as the failure of a young person to remain in the custody of a supervising youth justice worker or approved service provider during a period of escorted movement.

An escape is counted each time a young person escapes. For example, if a young person escapes three times during the year, three escapes are recorded. If three young people escape at the same time, three escapes are recorded.

Zero or decreasing rates of escape are desirable.

Nationally (excluding Tasmania), in 2020‑21, there were zero escapes from youth justice detention centres (table 17.7a). Nationally, there were 2 escapes from escorted movements (table 17.7b).

16. Absconds from unescorted leave

‘Absconds from unescorted leave’ is an indicator of governments’ objective to promote community safety.

‘Absconds from unescorted leave’ is defined as the rate of young people who have unescorted temporary leave and fail to return to custody, per 1000 periods of unescorted leave.

Unescorted leave is leave for a young person held in custody that is authorised in writing and does not require the young person to be escorted by a youth justice worker. An abscond is a failure to return from leave, and occurs when the youth justice agency advises police of the young person’s failure to return to custody.

Zero or low, or decreasing rates of absconds from unescorted leave are desirable.

Management of young people while they are in the legal custody of a youth detention centre includes the provision of appropriate assessment, planning and supervision to enable young people to undertake unescorted temporary leave from detention centres. Unescorted leave is undertaken for activities such as education, training and employment.

No young people absconded from unescorted leave in 2020‑21. Data from 2014-15 are available and show one abscond over this period (table 17.8).

17. Completion of community-based orders

‘Completion of community‑based orders’ is an indicator of governments’ objective to rehabilitate and reintegrate young people who offend.

‘Completion of community‑based orders’ is defined as the proportion of sentenced community‑based youth supervision orders successfully completed.

Successful completion occurs when the earliest of the order expiry date or the order termination date is reached, and a breach is neither pending nor finalised. An order is not successfully completed where a court decides that an order was breached, irrespective of the court‑ordered outcome. It excludes orders that have not yet been completed and/or the breach action has not been finalised.

A high or increasing proportion of orders successfully completed is desirable. However, where offenders are non‑compliant and pose a risk, a breach action (an unsuccessful completion) may be warranted. As a result, a completion rate less than 100 per cent may not necessarily indicate poor performance, and may reflect appropriate supervision of young people on community‑based supervision orders.

Nationally, 84.7 per cent of community‑based orders were successfully completed in 2020‑21, continuing the annual increases from 78.6 per cent in 2014‑15 (figure 17.11).

18. Returns to sentenced youth justice supervision

‘Returns to sentenced youth justice supervision’ is an indicator of governments’ objective to contribute to a reduction in youth re-offending.

‘Returns to sentenced youth justice supervision’ is defined as the proportion of young people released from sentenced supervision who are aged 10–16 years at time of release who returned to sentenced supervision within 12 months. Data are reported by the State or Territory of the original sentenced supervision, even if the return to supervision is not in that State or Territory.

The measure has a number of restrictions that need to be considered when interpreting the results:

  • the measure is restricted to young people who have received a supervised sentence and does not include those young people for whom the offence resulted in an unsupervised sentence
  • the measure does not include information on people supervised by adult justice departments
  • some returns to sentenced supervision may be due to a breach of a previous order rather than a new offence.

This measure should not be interpreted as a measure of recidivism. Accurately measuring recidivism would require information on all criminal acts committed by a young person which would include those not coming to the attention of authorities, and for those that did not result in a return to youth justice sentenced supervision.

This measure should be considered in the context of other youth justice outcome indicators, as many factors are likely to influence youth offending patterns, including a young person’s family environment and social circumstances. In addition, as factors that give rise to offending vary from region to region, direct comparisons of rates should not be made in isolation from the broader social context of each region.

A low rate of returns to sentenced youth justice supervision is desirable.

Nationally, 55.0 per cent of young people aged 10–16 years at time of release from sentenced supervision in 2018‑19 returned within 12 months, a decrease of almost 4 percentage points on the previous year (figure 17.12).

Performance indicator data for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in this section are available in the data tables listed below. Further supporting information can be found in the 'Indicator results' tab and data tables.

Youth justice services data disaggregated for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
Table number Table title
Table 17A.12 Proportion of group conferences resulting in an agreement, by Indigenous status
Table 17A.13 Case plans prepared/reviewed within six weeks of commencing a sentenced order, by Indigenous status
Table 17A.14 Proportion of young people in detention attending education and training, by Indigenous status
Table 17A.15 Deaths in custody, by Indigenous status
Table 17A.16 Serious assaults in custody, by Indigenous status
Table 17A.17 Assaults in custody, by Indigenous status
Table 17A.19 Self-harm and attempted suicide in custody, by Indigenous status
Table 17A.23 Escapes from detention and escorted movement, by Indigenous status
Table 17A.24 Absconds from unescorted leave, by Indigenous status
Table 17A.25 Completion of community-based orders, by Indigenous status

Key terms

TermsDefinition

Assaults

An assault is an intentional act of direct infliction of force or violence, or indirect or non‑confrontational force or violence, such as stalking resulting in physical harm to individuals, administration of illicit drugs, poison, drink/food spiking and setting traps.

Serious assaults are all acts of sexual assault and those requiring the young person or staff member to receive treatment in, or be admitted to, a hospital. Triage only in a hospital emergency department does not count as an admission.

Community‑based youth justice supervision

Community‑based youth justice supervision is an alternative to detention, where a sentenced order or an unsentenced order (such as conditional bail) is served in the community.

Detention‑based youth justice supervision

Detention‑based youth justice supervision involves young people spending time in a custodial environment, either serving their sentence or on remand.

Group conferencing

Group conferences are decision‑making forums that aim to minimise the progression of young people into the youth justice system, and provide restorative justice. Typically, a group conference involves the young offender(s) and victim(s) and their families, police and a youth justice agency officer, all of whom attempt to agree on a course of action required of the young offender/s to make amends for his or her offence/s.

Police caution

A police officer administering a caution, or warning, to a child instead of bringing a child before a court for the offence.

Pre‑sentence community

Pre‑sentence arrangements where the youth justice department is responsible for the case management or supervision of a young person (such as supervised or conditional bail where the youth justice department is involved with monitoring or supervising a young person).

Pre‑sentence detention

Remanded or held in a youth justice centre or police watch house prior to appearing in court or to being sentenced.

Sentenced community‑based supervision

Includes probation, recognisance and community service orders which are supervised or case managed by the youth justice department. May be supervision with or without additional mandated requirements, requiring some form of obligation or additional element that a young person is required to meet. This obligation could be community work such as a community service order, a developmental activity or program attendance. The youth justice department may or may not directly supervise any additional mandated requirements, but remains responsible for the overall case management of a young person.

Supervision period

A period of time during which a young person is continuously under youth justice supervision of one type or another. A supervision period is made up of one or more contiguous episodes.

Youth justice centre

A place administered and operated by a youth justice department, where young people are detained while under the supervision of the relevant youth justice department on a remand or sentenced detention episode.

Youth justice conference/group conference

A youth justice conference, or group conference, is a facilitated meeting resulting in a formal agreement to repair the harm caused by the offence. Participants can include the victim(s), offender(s), a youth justice agency officer, police and other key stakeholders. Referrals may be initiated by the police or the courts.

Youth justice department

Departments in each State and Territory that are responsible for youth justice matters.

References

Patel, N., 2004, Accommodation needs of young offenders, Youth Justice Board for England and Wales: United Kingdom.

Supervised Release Review Board 2012, Supervised Release Review Board: Annual Report, Western Australia.

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