Blueprint for Youth Justice in the ACT 2012-22

Blueprint for Youth Justice in the ACT 2012-22 (Annual Progress Report 2013) [PDF 1.4MB]

Section 2 Progress on Strategies

Annual Progress Report 2013

Report from the Youth Justice Blueprint Implementation Group

Acknowledgment of Country

The ACT Government acknowledges the Ngunnawal people as the traditional custodians of the Canberra region. The region was also an important meeting place and is significant to other Aboriginal groups. The ACT Government acknowledges and respects their continuing culture and the unique contribution they make to the life of this city and region.

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Disclaimer

This report contains reference to external documents. The external websites are outside the Territory’s control. It is the responsibility of internet users to make their own decisions about the accuracy, currency, reliability and correctness of information found. While care is taken to provide links to suitable material, the nature of the internet prevents the Territory from guaranteeing the suitability, completeness or accuracy of any material that this report may be linked.

Acknowledgements

The artwork incorporated in the design of the Blueprint for Youth Justice in the ACT 2012-22 was created by young people as part of their involvement in programs at the Bimberi Youth Justice Centre.

Data used in the report is primarily sourced from the AIHW 2013. Youth justice in Australia 2011-12: an overview. AIHW bulletin 115. Cat. no. AUS 170. Canberra: AIHW.

Youth Justice Blueprint Implementation Group

The Youth Justice Blueprint Implementation Group has been established to oversee and monitor progress on the implementation of the actions in the Blueprint for Youth Justice in the ACT 2012-22. The group comprises senior representatives from ACT Government agencies and the community sector.

Christine Nolan - Community Services Directorate (Chair)
Brendan Church - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body
Emma Robertson - Youth Coalition of the ACT
Danny O’Neill - Richmond Fellowship
Jacky Cook - Canberra Police and Citizens Youth Club
Simon Rosenberg - Northside Community Service
David Bromhead - Education and Training Directorate
Katrina Bracher - Health Directorate
Geoffrey Rutledge - Chief Minister and Treasury Directorate
Sergeant Sue Smith- ACT Policing
Julie Field - Justice and Community Safety Directorate
Mark Collis - Community Services Directorate

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Message from the Chair

The Blueprint for Youth Justice in the ACT 2012-22 (the Blueprint) was released in August 2012 to guide the direction for youth justice in the ACT. This 10-year strategy aims to positively impact the high rates of youth recidivism, detention and remand and the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in the youth justice system.

While the Blueprint gives us the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ we need a vision to keep our young people ‘safe, strong and connected’, it is the 45 initiatives in the three year action plan that provide the ‘when’, the ‘who’ and the ‘how’ to make it happen.

One year on, it is time to check on progress. This first annual report for the Blueprint records early and important steps forward in changing the way the ACT responds to young people who find themselves in contact with the law - or who are at risk.

This year has seen foundation work for almost all the actions identified in the three-year action plan that underpin longer term change. This work is not reflected as giant leaps forward, rather it forms a sound base to continue our work.

It is heartening to see that a number of initiatives around early intervention, prevention and diversion are already making a difference. We must keep this going. We are seeing early positive outcomes against the Blueprint’s strategies, however, it is important that we view these with some caution.

The data presented in the Blueprint reminds us all that much needs to be done to reduce the disproportionate representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in the ACT youth justice system.

While good work is happening in this area, especially around culturally responsive practice, there is a long way to go before real and lasting change is realised.

A common thread through the life of the Blueprint has been the continuation of the many partnerships that were established within, and between community and government agencies in its development. I am delighted that these connections - so critical to delivering the program of work - remain solid and productive. I mention in particular the collaboration with ACT Policing, the youth sector and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community where we have seen very positive outcomes. This bodes well for the future of the Blueprint.

Year one progress has been overseen by the Youth Justice Blueprint Implementation Group, whose members are representatives of government agencies and the community. I thank each of them for their contribution to ensuring that the Blueprint comes to life through effective implementation.

While an annual review process is important to check that we are on the right track, we must not forget that the Blueprint is ultimately about making sure that young people and their families get the right support at the right time. In this way we are moving towards a collective goal to live in a productive, inclusive and safer community.

Christine NolanNovember 2013

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Executive Summary

This first report presents the progress in implementing the Blueprint and demonstrates how outcomes are being met through key indicators for youth justice.

The report has two sections - a picture of the data trends for youth justice with a focus on 2012-13 and a summary of progress against the Blueprint’s strategies. Case studies are included to illustrate how significant actions are working.

The focus of work in 2012-13 has been determining the priority actions and consolidating changes to policy and practices already underway.

Of the 45 initiatives in the three-year action plan, two are complete, 37 are substantially underway and six are yet to commence.

Two working groups have been established to support work on single case management and support for children and young people early in their involvement in the youth justice system.

Early signs point to reducing numbers of young people coming into contact with, or becoming further involved in the youth justice system:

  • the number of offences committed by young people decreased by 17 per cent
  • the number of young people under supervision decreased by nine per cent
  • the number of days young people spent in detention reduced by 22 per cent and by 47 per cent for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people
  • the number of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders referred to restorative justice by ACT Policing under the trial initiative increased by 45 per cent.

A number of actions have contributed to this progress including the:

  • After-Hours Bail Support Service
  • Bendora Transition Unit at the Bimberi Youth Justice Centre
  • Single Case Management approach in youth justice
  • Trial initiatives involving ACT Policing referring all eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people and first time offenders to restorative justice
  • Early Intervention Pilot Program for underage drinking.

A challenge continues to be to reduce the disproportionate representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in the ACT youth justice system.

Progress on the Blueprint is being monitored annually. The proposed evaluation at the end of 2015 will measure the impact, outcomes and effectiveness of the Blueprint’s initiatives. Importantly, the evaluation will add to existing knowledge and inform the continued development and improvement of strategies that address offending by young people.

Delivering long-term change in the youth justice system requires an ongoing commitment and shared responsibility from key ACT government agencies and community organisations that are involved with young people. This collaborative approach between government and community is integral to achieving the Blueprint’s vision for the ACT youth justice system that “children and young people are safe, strong and connected”.

To support this goal, the ACT Government committed $5.5 million over four years to support the implementation of actions under the Blueprint in the 2012-13 Budget.

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A picture of Youth Justice in the ACT

The youth justice system deals with young people who have committed or allegedly committed offences. In the ACT, the youth justice system includes young people aged 10-17 at the time of an offence, as well as young people up to 21 years for an offence committed as a minor.

The ACT youth justice system includes the police, courts, the Bimberi Youth Justice Centre and the Community Services Directorate for the supervision of young people under court orders. Young people first enter the youth justice system when they are investigated by police. Charges made against them will be heard by a court. If a charge is proven, a court may hand down a number of supervised or unsupervised legal orders.

The Blueprint’s goals are:

  • Youth offending and re-offending is reduced.
  • The over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in the youth justice system is reduced.
  • Children and young people are diverted from the formal youth justice system.
  • Detention rates are reduced.
  • Children, young people and their families are helped early and provided with the supports and services they need.
  • Children and young people are given every possible chance to be successfully reintegrated into the community upon leaving detention.

Data is available for three goals in the Blueprint (1, 2 and 4). The data presented on the following pages provides an analysis of youth justice in the ACT to establish a baseline for future reports to measure the success in achieving the Blueprint’s goals. The 2011-12 year is used as the baseline and 2012-13 data is provided, where available, to assess progress.

Note: Numbers of young people for all ages (i.e. 10-21 years) during the year are primarily used in the report. ‘During the year’ is a measure that provides a count of the number of unique individuals who are supervised in a year. Rates of young people aged 10-17 on an average day are used for national comparisons. Data used is primarily sourced from: AIHW 2013. Youth justice in Australia 2011-12: an overview AIHW bulletin 115. Cat. no. AUS 170. Canberra: AIHW.

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Offending by Young People

Offending by young people in the ACT continues to decrease (Figure 1). From 2009-10 to 2012-13, the number of offences by young people decreased by 47 per cent. Over the past year, from 2011-12 to 2012-13, the number of offences by young people decreased by 17 per cent.

Figure 1: Total number of offences by young people aged 10-21 in the ACT

Figure 1: Total number of offences by young people aged 10-21 in the ACTSource: JaCS ACT Criminal Justice Statistical Profile

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Young People under Supervision

Young people can be ordered by a court to undertake a period of supervision. Young people may be supervised in the community or in detention. In 2011-12, there was an estimated 58,224 young people in the ACT aged 10-21 years (Figure 2). Of these young people, 0.23 per cent were in detention and 0.37 per cent were under community-based supervision.

Figure 2: Young people under supervision in the ACT and Australia (all ages)

Figure 2: Young people under supervision in the ACT and Australia (all ages)
* Source: ABS Population by age and sex tables, table 8 (Estimated resident population, by age and sex, at 30 June 2012, released 20 June 2013)
# Source: AIHW Youth Justice in Australia 2011-12: An overview, Tables S36b, S69b

On an average day in 2011-12, 89 per cent (113 out of 127) of young people under supervision in the ACT were aged 10-17 years (Figure 3). Of these young people, 80 per cent were male (90 out of 113) and 20 per cent were female (23 out of 113). The remaining young people were all males aged 18 years and over.

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Figure 3: Young people under supervision on an average day by age and sex in 2011-12 in the ACT (all ages)

Figure 3: Young people under supervision on an average day by age and sex in 2011-12 in the ACT (all ages)
Source: AIHW Youth Justice in Australia 2011-2012: An overview, Table S128a

Most young people (78 per cent, 190 out of 244) under supervision in 2011-12 were aged 14-17 years (Figure 4).

Of these young people, 71 per cent (135 out of 190) were non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people and 26 per cent (50 out of 190) were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people. This is a significant over-representation as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders were less than five per cent of the ACT youth population.

During 2011-12, 64 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people were under community-based supervision of which 78 per cent were aged between 14-17 years (Figure 4).

Figure 4: Young people under supervision during the year 2011 - 12 by Indigenous status and age at first supervision (all ages)

Figure 4: Young people under supervision during the year 2011-12 by Indigenous status and age at first supervision (all ages)
Source: AIHW Youth Justice in Australia 2011-2012: An overview, Table S19

Trends in young people under supervision

The number of young people under supervision in the ACT decreased by nine per cent in the last year (2011-12 to 2012-13); with an overall decrease of 21 per cent from 2009-10 to 2012-13 (Figure 5). The number of young people under community-based supervision decreased by four per cent and the number of young people in detention decreased by 12 per cent from 2011-12 to 2012-13.

The number of young people under community-based supervision decreased by 10 per cent from 2009-10 to 2011-12. The number of young people in detention continued to decline from 2009-10 to 2011-12 with an overall decrease of 22 per cent.

Figure 5: Young people under supervision during the year by supervision type in the ACT - all ages

Figure 5: Young people under supervision during the year by supervision type in the ACT - all ages
Sources: AIHW Youth Justice in Australia 2011-2012: An overview, tables S11b, S46b and S79b.* Unpublished 2012-13 Juvenile Justice National Minimum Data Set.

In 2011-12, the rate of young people aged 10-17 under youth justice supervision on an average day in the ACT was 33 per 10,000. This was the second highest rate nationally across the six reporting states (excluding WA and NT). While the ACT rate has decreased from the previous year, the AIHW report identifies that the rate has slightly increased over the last four years from 30 per 10,000 in 2008-09 (AIHW Youth Justice in Australia 2011-2012: An overview, pp 7 & 17).

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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Young People under Supervision

Over the past four years, the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people under supervision in the ACT has increased by nine per cent. However, the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people under supervision decreased by eight per cent from 2011-12 to 2012-13 (Figure 6).

Figure 6: Number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people under supervision during the year in the ACT - all ages

Figure 6: Number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people under supervision during the year in the ACT - all ages
Sources: AIHW Youth Justice in Australia 2011-2012: An overview, table 11b. * Unpublished 2012-13 Juvenile Justice National Minimum Data Set.

Across Australia, in 2011-12, the ACT had the highest rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people aged 10-17 in youth justice supervision on an average day at 426 per 10,000 (excluding WA and NT). (Figure 7). The national rate was 236 per 10,000. The ACT rate has been increasing since 2009-10.

In the ACT, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people were 19 times as likely to be under youth justice supervision on an average day in 2011-12 than non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people (AIHW Youth Justice in Australia 2011-2012: An overview, p 10).

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Figure 7: Rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people aged 10-17 under supervision on an average day in the ACT Figure 7: Rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people aged 10-17 under supervision on an average day in the ACT
Source: AIHW Youth Justice in Australia 2011-2012: An overview, Table S12a

Young People under Community-Based Supervision

The number of young people under community-based supervision decreased by four per cent from 2010-11 to 2011-12 (Figure 8).

Over the past four years, the number of young people under community-based supervision peaked in 2009-10 and declined by 10 per cent from 2009-10 to 2011-12 (Figure 8).

In 2011-12 there were 216 young people under community-based supervision in the ACT. Of these, 164 were male and 47 were female. Of these young people, 58 identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Figure 9).

In 2011-12, on an average day the ACT had the second highest rate of young people aged 10-17 under community-based supervision, at 27 per 10,000 compared to the national rate of 23 per 10,000 (excluding WA and NT) (AIHW Youth Justice in Australia 2011-2012: An overview, p 7).

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Figure 8: Number of young people under community-based supervision during the year in the ACT - all ages

Figure 8: Number of young people under community-based supervision during the year in the ACT - all ages
Source: AIHW Youth Justice in Australia 2011-2012: An overview, Table S46b

The total number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people under community-based supervision increased by 23 per cent from
2009-10 to 2011-12 and by 16 per cent from 2010-11 to 2011-12
(Figure 9).

The number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males under community-based supervision increased by 10 per cent (40 to 44) from 2010-11 to 2011-12 (Figure 9). In contrast, the number of non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males decreased by 10 per cent (133 to 120) from 2010-11 to 2011-12.

The number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females under community-based supervision increased by 40 per cent from 2010-11 to 2011-12 (10 to 14) but remained constant from 2009-10 to 2010-2011 (Figure 9). In comparison, there was a 20 per cent decrease in the non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females under community-based supervision from 2010-11 to 2011-12 (41 to 33).

Figure 9: Number of young people under community-based supervision during the year in the ACT by sex and Indigenous status

Figure 9: Number of young people under community-based supervision during the year in the ACT by sex and Indigenous status
Source: AIHW Juvenile Justice in Australia 2008-2009, Table 6.3; AIHW Juvenile Justice in Australia 2009-2010, Table 6.2; AIHW Juvenile Justice in Australia 2010-2011, Table 6.2; AIHW Youth Justice in Australia 2011-2012: An overview, Table S37b.

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Young People in Detention

Overall, the number of young people in detention in the ACT has decreased by 22 per cent from 2009-10 to 2011-12 (Figure 10). In 2011-12, 136 young people (male 108, female 28) were in detention (Figure 10). Of these, 32 per cent (44) were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people. From 2009-10 to 2011-12, there was a 22 per cent decrease (174 to 136) in the number of young people in detention.

Nationally, however, in 2011-12 on an average day the ACT had the highest rate of young people aged 10-17 in detention at 5.8 per 10,000 compared to the national rate of 3.6 per 10,000. Over half (56%) of young people who were under supervision in 2011-12 spent some time in detention (AIHW Youth Justice in Australia 2011-2012: An overview, pp 11 & 14).

The total number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in detention increased overall by 10 per cent (40 to 44) from 2009-10 to 2011-12 and decreased by 14 per cent (51 to 44) from 2010-11 to 2011-12 and (Figure 10).

The number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males in detention decreased by 17 per cent (41 to 34) from 2010-11 to 2011-12 (Figure 10). Similarly, the number of non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males decreased by seven per cent (77 to 72) from 2010-11 to 2011-12.

The number of non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females in detention remained constant between 2010-11 and 2011-12 and decreased by 41 per cent from 2009-10 to 2011-12 (29 to 17) (Figure 10).

Figure 10: Number of young people under detention during the year in the ACT by sex and Indigenous status - all ages

Figure 10: Number of young people under detention during the year in the ACT by sex and Indigenous status - all ages
Source: AIHW Juvenile Justice in Australia 2008-2009, Table 7.2; AIHW Juvenile Justice in Australia 2009-2010, Table 7.2; AIHW Juvenile Justice in Australia 2010-2011, Table 7.2; AIHW Youth Justice in Australia 2011-2012: An overview, Table S70b.

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Young People in Types of Detention

Young people may be in unsentenced detention (when they have been charged with an offence, held in custody and are awaiting the outcome of their court matter, or when they plead or have been found guilty and are awaiting sentence), or sentenced detention (when they are sentenced to a period of detention when proven guilty in a court).

Young People in Unsentenced Detention

The number of young people in unsentenced detention has declined steadily from 2009-10 following a peak at 172 (Figure 11). From 2009-10 to 2011-12, the number of young people on unsentenced detention decreased by 26 per cent. Most young people in detention are on unsentenced detention (Figure 11). This is the case every year from 2008-09 onwards including 2011-12. Of those young people in unsentenced detention in 2011-12, 32 per cent (41 out of 128) were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people (Figure 12). Given that young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are less than five per cent of the ACT youth population, this is a significant over representation.

Young People in Sentenced Detention

The number of young people in sentenced detention decreased by four per cent from 2010-11 to 2011-12 following a steady increase (from 9 to 27) between 2008-09 and 2010-11 (Figure 11). In 2011-12, of the total number of young people in detention, 19 per cent (26 out of 136) were sentenced (Figure 11). In 2011-12, 38 per cent (10 out of 26) of young people in sentenced detention were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, while 62 per cent (16 out of 26) were non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (Figure 12). This is a significant over-representation as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are less than five per cent of the ACT youth population.

Figure 11: Number of young people in detention during the year by legal status in the ACT
Figure 11: Number of young people in detention during the year by legal status in the ACT
Source: Juvenile Justice in Australia 2008-2009, Table 7.6; Juvenile Justice in Australia 2009-2010, Table 7.8; Juvenile Justice in Australia 2010-2011, Table 7.6; Youth Justice in Australia 2011-2012: An overview, Table S101b

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Figure 12: Percentage of young people in detention during the year by legal status, detention type and Indigenous status in the ACT, 2011-12

Figure 12: Percentage of young people in detention during the year by legal status, detention type and Indigenous status in the ACT, 2011-12
Source: AIHW Youth Justice in Australia 2011-2012: An overview, Table S101b

Time Young People Spend in Detention

Overall, the length of time young people spend in detention has decreased (Figure 13). From 2011-12 to 2012-13, there has been a significant decrease in the number of days young people spent in custody from 8347 days to 6525 days; a 22 per cent decrease. Over the two years, from 2010-11 to 2012-13, the number of days young people spent in custody decreased by 25 per cent. This compares to an increase of 67 per cent from 2008-09 to 2010-11.

In addition, over the past year, the number of days Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people spent in detention reduced from 3071 in 2011-12 to 1622 in 2012-13; a 47 per cent decrease.

Figure 13: Number of days served in custody by young people in the ACT

 Figure 13: Number of days served in custody by young people in the ACT
Source: Community Services Directorate Quarterly Reports, Output 4.1
Unpublished data: 2012-13 CSD Quarterly Report, 4th Quarter YTD result

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Young People in Group Conferencing (restorative justice)

The number of group conferences (restorative justice) involving young people increased by 28 per cent from 2010-11 to 2011-12 (Figure 14).

The number of young people who participated in group conferences increased by 14 per cent from 2010-11 to 2011-12 (Figure 15). Over this period, the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people participating in restorative justice increased by 79 per cent (14 to 25).

From 2009-10 to 2011-12, the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people who participated in group conferencing has increased significantly (12 to 25) by 108 per cent.

Figure 14: Total number of group conferences that resulted in an agreement*

Figure 14: Total number of group conferences that resulted in an agreement*
Source: Report on Government Services (RoGS) 2013, Chapter 15 Child protection and youth justice services, attachment tables only, Table 15A.191

* Note: The counting rule will change from the number of “group conferences” to the number of “young people in group conferences” in 2012-13.

Figure 15: Number of young people who participated in group conferences that resulted in an agreement by Indigenous status

Figure 15: Number of young people who participated in group conferences that resulted in an agreement by Indigenous status
Source: Unpublished data from the ACT Justice and Community Safety Directorate

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Re-offending by Young People

Re-offending, otherwise known as recidivism, by young people on community-based orders is measured by the number of young people who have been subject to more than one final supervised community-based order during the current and previous financial reporting year.

Recidivism by young people in detention is measured by the number of young people who have been subject to more than one sentence of imprisonment in the current and previous financial reporting years.

Recidivism rates of young people on community-based orders in the ACT increased by three per cent from 2010-11 and 2011-12 and decreased by 19 per cent from 2011-12 to 2012-13 (Figure 16). Recidivism rates of young people in detention increased by 38 per cent from 2010-11 to 2011-12 and by 14 per cent from 2011-12 to 2012-13. These rates fluctuate significantly due to the small number of young people in detention as compared to the number in community-based supervision.

Figure 16: Recidivism rates of young people under community-based supervision and detention in the ACT

Figure 16: Recidivism rates of young people under community-based supervision and detention in the ACT
Source: Community Services Directorate Quarterly Reports, Output 4.1 Unpublished data: 2012-13 CSD Quarterly Report, 4th Quarter YTD results

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