Keep Kids Out of Prison: Raise the Age of Criminal Responsibility

Children don’t belong in prison. Right now, our laws allow children as young as 10 years old to be arrested, put through the court system, and locked up in prison.

The government should urgently raise the age of criminal responsibility to at least 14 years of age.

First Nations organisations, medical, legal and human rights bodies have called repeatedly on the Government to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to at least 14 years old. The United Nations Committee Against Torture has condemned the cruelty of Australia’s youth detention system and urged the government to raise the age, as well as immediately end the practice of solitary confinement for children.

The Labor government has said they won’t raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility until late 2024, and even then, they’ll only raise it to 12 years old. They don’t plan to raise the age to 14 until 2027. That’s not good enough.

Right now, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children represent more than 60% of all children in detention in Australia. Decades of research has demonstrated that when children have contact with the criminal justice system the damage to them, their families and their communities is devastating and lasting.

The younger a child is when they’re sentenced, the more likely they are to reoffend violently, to continue offending and to end up in prison as an adult. According to Victoria’s Sentencing Advisory Council’s 2016 report, 94% of children in detention aged 10 to 12 returned to prison before they were 18.

Will you add your name to our open letter to show your support? Together, we can build pressure on the Victorian Government to make this crucial change that will give children a fair chance to thrive – and set a positive example for other states around Australia to follow.

The ACT and NT have already committed to raising the age to 14, thanks to the leadership of the ACT Greens – now it’s Victoria’s turn.

Keep Kids Out of Prison: Raise the Age of Criminal Responsibility


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