The relationship between intellectual disability, Indigenous status and risk of reoffending in juvenile offenders on community orders

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Intellectual disability (ID), age and aboriginal status have been independently implicated as risk factors for offending to varying degrees. This study examined the relationship between age, ID and the Indigenous status of juvenile offenders. It also examined the outcomes of the sample's offending in terms of court appearances and sentencing, criminogenic needs and risk of reoffending.


The sample comprised 800 juvenile offenders on community orders of whom 19% were Indigenous, who completed the New South Wales Young People on Community Order Health Survey between 2003 and 2005. Risk and criminogenic needs were evaluated using the Youth Level of Service/Case Management Inventory (Australian Adaptation) (YLS/CMI: AA).


Those with an ID were found to have a higher risk of reoffending than those without an ID. Those with an ID were also more likely to be younger and Indigenous. For Indigenous young offenders, there was no difference between those with and without an ID in risk category allocation or number of court dates. For non-Indigenous young offender, those with an ID had higher risk scores and more court dates.


This study provided evidence that Indigenous status may play a significant role in the relationship between ID and offending in juvenile offenders on community orders. These findings have clear implications for the ‘risk’, ‘needs’ and ‘responsivity’ principles of offender classification for treatment. Emphasis is placed on the requirement for addressing the needs of Indigenous juvenile offenders with an ID.

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