The ACT Greens have today backed calls from a range of prominent community groups calling on the ACT Government to raise the age of criminal responsibility to fourteen.
Groups including, but not limited to, the ACT Human Rights Commission, ACTCOSS, the Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT), Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services,Gugan Gulwan Youth Aboriginal Corporation, Anglicare NSW South/ACT, the Law Society, the Youth Coalition of the ACT and others have called on the ACT Government to take this important step to further protect vulnerable children in our community.
“We should be supporting kids to thrive in family, community and culture, not forcing them into the quicksand of the criminal legal system,” the letter to all ACT MLAs reads.
The decision to raise the age of criminal responsibility rests with respective Attorneys-General, across Australian jurisdictions.
ACT Greens leader Shane Rattenbury expressed the ACT Greens’ support for this important reform.
“Australia’s minimum age of criminal responsibility of 10 is ‘well and truly out of step with the rest of the world’, and we have been chastised by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, which recommends raising the age to 14.
“Children as young as 10 simply don't belong in prison, no matter what they have done.
“Where children are imprisoned, it sets the trajectory for the rest of their lives and increases the risk they will be involved in the adult criminal justice system as they mature. Surely it is better to provide them with the help they need to stay on the right path.
“The Greens have long called for improved early intervention programs for young people at risk. We believe that with the right supports in place, and a well resourced youth sector, we can provide better alternatives to custody for children under 14.
“The Greens will be using our role in Government to advocate for this important change.
“Our preference is that the Standing Council of Attorneys-General should act decisively to make this reform. But if they do not, the ACT should be willing to go it alone - we should not be held to the lowest common denominator on such an important question,” Mr Rattenbury added.