'Historic' Yoorrook Justice Commission report must be wake-up call for Victorian Government on raising the age


The Victorian Greens have hailed a report released by the Yoorrook Justice Commission today as ‘historic’, and say it paints a damning picture of the state’s criminal justice system.

The Commission’s second interim report makes 46 recommendations for change, including a call on the Victorian Labor Government to urgently raise the age of criminal responsibility to 14 without exceptions.

Earlier this year the Government announced it would raise the age to just 12, with the “intention” of raising it to 14 after the next state election.

It was a timid, politicised decision that completely ignored what First Nations communities, health experts and the United Nations had been calling for.

Victorian Greens justice spokesperson, Katherine Copsey, said today’s report from the Yoorrook Justice Commission made clear that in order to reduce the over-incarceration of First Nations people the age of criminal responsibility needed to be raised to 14 immediately.

She added that if the Government was serious about the truth-telling and Treaty process, it would listen to First Nations people instead of consistently ignoring their advice.

The Greens are also urging the Government to consider the other recommendations in today’s report, including meaningful bail reform, and a call for an independent police ombudsman.

Police shouldn’t be investigating police. Abuses of power continue to run rife among police officers, including ongoing discrimination against the First Nations community. 

A powerful, well-resourced police ombudsman would improve Victoria Police by providing truly independent oversight.

Quotes attributable to Victorian Greens justice spokesperson, Katherine Copsey MLC:

“This historic report must be the final wake-up call for the Victorian Labor Government.

“This Government’s policies have directly led to the imprisonment of more First Nations people in Victoria than at any other time in recorded history.

“Truth-telling and Treaty mean listening to First Nations people. If this Government is serious about reducing the over-incarceration of First Nations people and preventing deaths in custody it must act on this report as a matter of urgency.

“They must begin by raising the age of criminal responsibility in Victoria to 14.”