A growing number of young Indigenous people are currently in youth detention compared to non-Indigenous Australians, according to a new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
By
NITV Staff Writer

Source:
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
4 Dec 2015 - 2:23 PM  UPDATED 8 Dec 2015 - 4:27 PM

The report, released on Friday, shows that the number of total young people in youth detention across the country has fallen with fewer than 900 young people in detention on an average night during the June quarter 2015.

AIHW spokesperson David Braddock said the report found 81 per cent of young people in detention were aged between 10 and 17 years old, with the remainder aged 18 or older.

But just over half of all young people in detention were Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

This is despite the fact that, according to Amnesty International Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people make up just over five per cent of the Australian population of 10- to 17-year-olds.

How do these statistics compare?

According to the new AIHW report 'Youth detention population in Australia 2015', Indigenous young people accounted for more of the population in detention, seeing an increase from 19 times the rate of non-Indigenous young people, to 26 times.

Mr Braddock said that this increase was primarily caused by the number of non-Indigenous young people in detention coming down, making statistics for Indigenous youth appear higher even though the Indigenous rate on its own showed no clear increase.

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From the June quarter of 2011 to the same period in 2015, the number of young people in detention on an average night fell from 1,027 to 885.

"In the June quarter 2015, 3.2 young people aged 10-17 per 10,000 in the Australian population were in detention-or about 1 in every 3,150 young people," Mr Braddock said.

This is a decrease since the June quarter 2011, when the rate in detention on an average night was 3.6 per 10,000."

According to Amnesty International, Indigenous young people were 26 times more likely to be in detention than non-Indigenous young people in 2013-14.

The advocacy group adds that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population has more people in younger age brackets than the non-Indigenous population.

According to Amnesty International, Indigenous young people were 26 times more likely to be in detention than non-Indigenous young people in 2013-14.

In light of this, the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples noted in 2013 that "unless the rate of increase in youth detention can be reduced, rates of incarceration across the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population are likely to continue to increase into the future".

Of the 885 young people in detention, more than half were unsentenced: that is, they were awaiting the outcome of their court matter or sentencing.

Do the statistics vary according to location?

The rates of Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth detention vary from one jurisdiction to another.

Amnesty International estimated that Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory typically have, respectively, the highest rate of over-representation of Indigenous youth in detention; the fastest growing rate of Indigenous youth detention; and the highest proportion of youth in detention who are Indigenous.

However, the AIHW report stated that in the last quarter, detention rates increased in Queensland and the Northern Territory, showed no clear trend in Victoria, and decreased in the remaining states and territories.