The Victorian Greens have written to Jill Hennessy urging her to support raising the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14 when the Council of Attorneys-General meets next week.
The Greens believe Australia needs to adopt a human rights based approach to youth justice rather than one that sees children as young as 10 charged and locked up in detention.
Criminalising children aged 10 to 13 creates a vicious cycle of disadvantage and forces them into the criminal justice system, with First Nations children over-represented among this cohort.
Victorian Greens spokesperson for justice, Dr Tim Read, said he hopes Hennessy will support raising the age when the Council meets next week to ensure at-risk young people are supported rather than set up to fail by being thrown into the school-to-prison pipeline.
Victoria’s support for raising the age is likely to be influential, and needed to stimulate reform in other states where large numbers of First Nations children are behind bars.
He added that while the age of criminal responsibility should be raised to 14, detention should only be used as a last resort for any person aged 14 to 17 years old.
Quotes attributable to Victorian Greens spokesperson for justice, Tim Read MP:
"It’s inhumane that children as young as ten can be charged as criminals and locked up in Australia.
"Prison is the worst place for kids whose brains are still developing and learning to exercise judgement and impulse control.
"Our governments are effectively setting them up to fail by forcing them into the criminal justice system and creating a vicious cycle of disadvantage.
"We hope that Victoria’s Attorney-General will support a human rights approach to youth justice and support raising the age of criminal responsibility to 14."