The intersection between the child protection and youth justice systems

The intersection between the child protection and youth justice systems

Adam Dean

CFCA Resource Sheet— July 2018
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Young people in child protection & youth justice in Australia

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This resource sheet summarises data that link the child protection system and youth justice supervision in Australia, with a focus on those groups who are over-represented in the youth justice system. It presents an overview of the number of young people under youth justice supervision and young people involved in both the youth justice and child protection systems.1 Recent research on the link between child maltreatment and youth offending is also summarised. While this resource sheet discusses some aspects of the child protection system, it does not provide an overview of child protection or child maltreatment statistics. For more information on these topics, see the CFCA Child Abuse and Neglect Statistics and Children in Care resource sheets.

In 2015/16,2 one in every 476 young people aged 10–17 years in Australia were under youth justice supervision on an average day. Males, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people and those from lower socio-economic backgrounds were significantly over-represented among those under youth justice supervision.

Young people involved in the child protection system were similarly over-represented in the youth justice system. In the period from 1 July 2014 to 30 June 2016, young people involved in the child protection system were 12 times more likely to also be under youth justice supervision than the general population. During the same period, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people were 16 times more likely to be involved in both systems than non-Indigenous young people. Young people with a history of maltreatment are particularly vulnerable to coming into contact with the criminal justice system. Those who do often have a range of complex needs, including developmental trauma and problem behaviours.

Note:

At the time of writing, data that links child protection and youth justice systems are available for all Australian states and territories, except New South Wales and the Northern Territory where datasets are not yet linked.

The data presented in this resource sheet are based on two Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) reports:

  • Youth Justice in Australia 2015–16 (2017a)
  • Young People in Child Protection and Under Youth Justice Supervision 2015–16 (2017b)

This resource sheet is updated annually once both datasets are available. Please check the AIHW website for recent updates to the datasets.

1 For the purposes of this resource sheet, young people refers to people aged 10–17 years in Australia unless otherwise stated.

2 Periods stated in this resource sheet represent financial years beginning 1 July of the first year and ending 30 June of the following year, unless otherwise stated.

Authors and Acknowledgements

This paper was authored by Adam Dean, Senior Research Officer with the Child Family Community Australia (CFCA) information exchange at the Australian Institute of Family Studies.

The author would like to thank Dr Catia Malvaso, Research Fellow at the School of Psychology, University of Adelaide, for reviewing this resource sheet.

Featured image: Slonov

Publication details

CFCA Resource Sheet
Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, July 2018.

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