In the Read

Overlap between child protection and youth justice

Young people in child protection and under youth justice supervision 1 July 2014 to 30 June 2018 is based on four years of data commencing from 2014, when it became possible to link national child protection data to data on youth justice supervision.

In this study, child protection services includes investigated notifications, child protection orders and/or placement in out of home care. Youth justice supervision includes community-based supervision and detention.

The data presents information on 58 193 young people who had involvement with the child protection system and/or the youth justice system over the four years, in all states and territories except New South Wales (where data is not yet available). This number includes only young people who were aged 10-14 years at start of the study period, so they remained within the 10-17 age group for the entire four year measurement period.

The key findings include:

  • 5% of young people who had received child protection services had also been under youth justice supervision at some point during the same four year period. This is 9 times the rate of the general population of young people;
  • 50% of young people under youth justice supervision had also received child protection services, which is a rate 10 times more likely than the general population;
    • This suggests that being under youth justice supervision was relatively uncommon among those receiving child protection services but it was fairly common for those who were under youth justice supervision to have received child protection services. However, when compared to the general population of the same age, both of these groups were far more likely to be involved in both services.
  • Most (81%) of the young people who had received both child protection services and youth justice supervision had received child protection services as their first contact;
  • Of those who received child protection services, males were more likely than females to have also been under youth justice supervision;
  • Of those under youth justice supervision, females were more likely than males to also have received child protection services;
  • Young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were 17 times more likely than their non-Indigenous counterparts to have received both child protection services and youth justice supervision.
  • For young people who had received child protection services, there was a higher percentage involved in the youth justice system where young people were subject to more intrusive services (child protection orders or placed in out of home care), as opposed to those who had only been the subject of an investigated notification;
  • Similarly for young people who had received youth justice supervision, there was a higher percentage who also received child protection services where young people where in detention as compared to those under community-based supervision;
  • In addition, the younger people were at their first youth justice supervision, the more likely they were to have also received child protection services.

The rate ratios show that regardless of the size of the child protection and youth justice populations within each state and territory, once a young person has had contact with one of these services, they are more likely to have contact with the other. The researchers point out that this might be because contact with one system may prompt contact with the other, because the needs of these populations are closely related, or both.

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