Lobby to raise the age of criminal responsibility
âThe treaty is the long-term solution where we can reimagine what these systems and structures might look like,â said Mr. Stewart, a Nira illim bulluk from the Taungurung Nation. âWe know the evidence, we understand the disproportionate impact this has on Indigenous children. There is no excuse the government cannot act nowâ¦ and we ask the Attorney General, who has been a champion and walked with us, not to turn his back on us now. “
Children aged 10 and over can be jailed in all states and territories, a setting the Attorneys General Council began reviewing in late 2018 in response to concerns that Australia is out of step with the rest of the world. world, where the most common age for criminals with responsibility is 14.
Thirty-one United Nations member states, including Canada, France and Norway, have called on Australia to raise the age in line with the 2019 recommendation of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child that 14 years old should be the minimum age internationally.
The ACT broke ranks in October this year and pledged to become the first jurisdiction in the country to raise the age from 10 to 14, while the Queensland government last year ruled out increasing age for the foreseeable future as part of its successful curing. -criminal election campaign.
Victorian Aboriginal Legal Services Executive Director Nerita Waight said it was “deeply shameful” that children were held to the same standards and subjected to the same bail tests as adults, and that the reform in this space could not wait after the elections of 2022.
âThe medical evidence is overwhelming and the Victorian community agrees that children who are still losing their baby teeth should not be thrown in jail,â Ms. Waight said.
âAs families prepare to be reunited for the holidays after long separations due to COVID, there are children who will spend the holidays languishing in cells, surrounded by metal and cement instead of family and death. community.”
A 2020 report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare highlighted that half of young people under juvenile justice supervision between 2014 and 2018 had received child protection services, and that children who were Abused or neglected are at greater risk of coming into contact with the criminal justice system from an early age.
Young people in the criminal justice system are less likely to complete their education or find a job, according to the institute, and more likely to die prematurely. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 10 to 17 are 23 times more likely to be in custody than non-Aboriginal youth.
Medical experts have noted that the brains of children under the age of 14 continue to grow and develop, meaning they may not have the capacity to be criminally responsible. A 2018 study published in the British Medical Journal found that 89% of children in Western Australia’s only juvenile prison had at least one severe neurodevelopmental deficit, such as intellectual disability or dyslexia.
Shadow Attorney General Matthew Bach said: âThe proportion of Indigenous children in Victoria’s child welfare system and in juvenile justice is a source of deep shame for our state. As a direct result, so many Native Americans in the Victorian era ended up in adult prisons. Much of this is due to the dismal failure of the Andrews Labor government to provide culturally appropriate supports to vulnerable indigenous families at an early stage. “
Tim Read from the Greens urged the government to support his party’s private member’s bill to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 14. on one issue to distract from another, âsaid Dr Read.
A government spokesperson said that, along with other states, Victoria “is working to develop and consider a proposal to raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12 â³.
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