The Victorian Greens have backed calls from the First Peoples' Assembly of Victoria to raise the age of criminal responsibility in Victoria from 10 to 14.
The Greens have been campaigning on the issue for a number of years alongside First Nations communities and human rights groups, and currently have a Bill before the Victorian Parliament that would ‘raise the age’ in Victoria to 14.
If passed, the Greens’ bill would amend section 344 of the Children Youth and Families Act 2005, and commence in November 2022.
The delayed start would allow sufficient time for existing therapeutic and restorative programs and pathways to be developed and strengthened to divert children under 14 from the criminal justice system.
Quotes attributable Victorian Greens justice spokesperson, Dr Tim Read:
"This country's track record of pushing kids as young as ten through the school-to-prison pipeline is a national disgrace.
"Children need to be kept out of the justice system for as long as possible. Locking them up at such a young age makes them more likely to reoffend, often violently, putting the community at risk.
"The Greens already have a Bill before the Victorian Parliament to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 14 - this reform could happen tomorrow, we just need the political will.
"Victoria could join the ACT in leading the way on a reform First Nations communities and human rights groups have been calling for for years.
"It's time for our state government to see the long-term value of investing in kids' lives, rather than using progress on one issue to distract from another."