On any given day during 2006-07 there were approximately 6,000 young people in Australia under juvenile justice supervision. This amounts to 12,765 young people who spent time under supervision through that year and 10,675 of them were aged between 10 and 17. The majority received a non-custodial sentence, which includes community-based orders and good behaviour bonds, however 43% experienced some form of detention (AIHW, 2008). The number of young people under community-based supervision showed a distinct downward trend between 2003-04 and 2006-07 (AIHW, 2008). Conversely there was an increase in the daily average number of young people incarcerated, from 590 in 2003-04 to 696 in 2006-07 (Productivity Commission, 2009). There are high rates of recidivism, with a study finding that almost half of a sample of youth justice clients re-offended within two years (Day et al, 2004). The rates for those who have been incarcerated are even higher (see for example Day, 2005). The costs of juvenile offending are significant with the New South Wales Department of Juvenile Justice spending $103 million on custodial services alone in 2007- 08 (Annual Report, 2007-08). The upturn in incarceration, the levels of recidivism and the costs involved highlight the need for renewed efforts that more effectively address the underlying causes of offending behaviour.
Ravulo, J. (2009). Young people and the criminal justice system: New insights and promising responses. Sydney: Mission Australia.