The statement by national Attorneys General to ‘support developing a proposal’ to increase the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12 is a political fudge that changes nothing and leaves children exposed to harm.
Despite considering this issue for years and overwhelming evidence supporting the need to act urgently to raise the age to 14, the Attorneys General have only agreed to kick the can half-heartedly down the road.
This was the damning assessment by NSW community, legal, and First Nations justice organisations working together to raise the age of criminal responsibility.
If the NSW Government only raises the age to 12, this would see only 6 out of 105 children under 14 behind bars last year avoid the damage of our criminal system.
Jonathon Hunyor, PIAC CEO:
‘Politics has triumphed over good policy and the community is being let down by this non-decision’ said Jonathon Hunyor, CEO of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre.
‘We are failing children in their formative years and setting them up to fail. Locking up children at 12 and 13 years of age is simply unacceptable,’ said Mr Hunyor.
Nadine Miles, Acting CEO of the Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) Limited:
‘First Nations organisations, health, legal and human rights experts have been calling for years for governments to raise the age to at least 14 years old. We don’t need more evidence, research or reports. We need action and leadership.’
Geoffrey Winters, CEO, Just Reinvest NSW:
‘The Government has seen and now appears to ignore the evidence which requires the age to be raised to at least 14 to have real impact. We welcome a process to change the law but to one that protects young people – predominantly First Nations children – through early intervention and investment in their lives, not in continuing to lock them up.’
Media release endorsed by:
The Public Interest Advocacy Centre
Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) Limited
Just Reinvest NSW
The Shopfront Legal Centre
Gamarada Universal Indigenous Resources
Deadly Connections Community & Justice Services Limited
Community Legal Centres NSW
Weave Youth & Community Services
MEDIA CONTACT: Gemma Pearce, PIAC Media and Communications Manager: 0478 739 280.