26 September 2023

Feedback sought on rising the criminal age

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The Justice and Community Safety Directorate and the Community Services Directorate are calling for feedback on how to implement reform to raise the age of criminal responsibility.

Attorney-General, Shane Rattenbury said the Directorates’ discussion paper, Raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility, sought views on how children and young people who were engaged in harmful behaviours should be supported and held accountable.

“Children as young as 10 belong in primary school, not prison,” Mr Rattenbury said.

“When 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 grow up,” he said.

“Australia’s minimum age of criminal responsibility of 10 is well and truly out of step with the rest of the world.”

Mr Rattenbury said with the right supports in place, and a well-resourced youth sector, the ACT could provide better alternatives to custody for children under 14.

The Attorney-General said meeting the needs of at-risk children, young people and their families earlier would ultimately lead to lower levels of offending and recidivism.

“This Discussion Paper seeks community and expert input on what those supports should be, how they would work and other policy questions we will need to resolve to implement this historic reform,” he said.

“We want to explore how responses outside the traditional criminal justice system could provide options for therapeutic care and accommodation for young people, embed restorative approaches and support victims.”

Mr Rattenbury said people could have a say on the proposed reforms until 5 August.

The Directorates’ 37-page Discussion Paper, including information on how to have a say, can be accessed at this PS News link.

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