Young people under youth justice supervision are 30 times as likely to receive an alcohol or other drug treatment service as young Australians generally, according to a new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
The report, Overlap between youth justice supervision and alcohol and other drug treatment services, shows 1 in 3 young people aged 10–17 under youth justice supervision during the 4 years to June 2016 also received alcohol and other drug treatment services at some point during the same period.
‘Today’s report highlights the considerable overlap between young people under youth justice supervision and those receiving drug and alcohol treatment services. Through bringing together data on both services, we have been able to determine that there were just over 2,500 ‘dual service’ clients – that is, young people that accessed both youth justice supervision and drug and alcohol services within the study period’ said AIHW spokesperson Anna Ritson.
Nearly 1 in 4 (23%) young people under youth justice supervision received treatment for cannabis as their principal drug of concern, 1 in 12 (8%) for alcohol and 1 in 20 (5%) for amphetamines. Less than 1% of young Australians in the general population received treatment for each of these principal drugs of concern.
Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander young people were over-represented among the study cohort. Of the just over 17,000 young people who received either an alcohol or other drug treatment episode or youth justice supervision, 3 in 10 were Indigenous.
In particular, Indigenous young people were over-represented among the ‘dual-service’ client population. During the 4-year period, Indigenous young people were 14 times as likely to experience both youth justice supervision and drug and alcohol services as their non-Indigenous counterparts.
Dual-service clients were, overall, more likely than other young people in the study to receive multiple alcohol and other drug treatment services and have multiple drugs of concern.
‘For dual service clients, almost half (47%) received 2 or more alcohol or other drug treatment episodes over the 4-year study period. However, where the young person was not under youth justice supervision, this falls to just under 1 in 5 (19%),’ Ms Ritson said.
Today’s report builds on established evidence about the overlaps that exist among young people who experience child protection, youth justice supervision, homelessness, mental health disorders, and use of alcohol and other drugs.
The high level of overlap between clients of the youth justice and alcohol and other drug treatment service sectors indicates a need for more integrated services and person-centered service delivery, to reduce future reliance on health and welfare services and improve outcomes for young people.