The ACT Greens have secured a commitment from the ACT Government to support raising the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14 years - an Australian first.
The ACT Greens’ motion commits the ACT Government to undertake policy work to enable the next Assembly to consider legislation after the ACT’s upcoming election.
The motion was supported by the Greens and Labor. The Canberra Liberals moved an amendment to defer this work until there is national agreement, but that amendment was not supported.
Comments attributable to ACT Greens leader Shane Rattenbury:
“The ACT Greens are pleased today to have secured this important commitment from ACT Labor today.
“Children as young as 10 simply don't belong in prison.
“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. We can better support these children by providing them with the help they need to stay on the right path.
“The ACT will be leading the nation in this important reform, and we now call on other states and territories to follow suit, to support children across the country.
“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 for this by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.
“With the right supports in place, and a well-resourced youth sector, we can provide better alternatives to custody for children under 14.”