Juvenile diversion and Indigenous offenders: a study examining juvenile offenders in Western Australia, South Australia and New South Wales
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Conferencing and cautioning are used as diversionary alternatives in the juvenile justice system and there is evidence to suggest they reduce reoffending. As Indigenous young people are overrepresented in the juvenile justice system, an important question is whether they are as likely to be diverted as non-Indigenous young people. This study used modelled data to examine juveniles’ contact with the police and courts, and the differences in juvenile diversionary rates for Indigenous and non-Indigenous offenders in New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia in 2005. For all states, Indigenous young offenders were more likely than non-Indigenous offenders to be referred to court, non-Indigenous offenders were more likely to receive a police caution, and males and older offenders were more likely to be diverted. The number of prior contacts was similar for all states, with more contacts reducing the likelihood of diversion and with less likelihood of diversion for offenders committing offences against a person. As Indigenous young offenders are more likely to have multiple prior contacts with the system, including detention, further research is needed into the reasons for their high reoffending rates.