The call to #RaiseTheAge of criminal responsibility in Australia from 10 to the UN recommended age of 14 has been gaining traction of late. Pressure on the Australian government to review and change this law increased ahead of the Council of Attorneys-General Meeting on the 27th of July.
The meeting consists of Attorneys-General from all states and territories of the Australian government and also the New Zealand Minister for Justice, and only takes place every two years. It focuses on law reform and provides an opportunity for leaders to improve justice outcomes in relation to civil justice reforms and responses, legal profession regulation, evidence law and more.
The Council of Attorneys-General Meeting has not recommended that the age of criminal responsibility in Australia should be raised from the age of 10 to 14.
Over 135,800 people signed a petition to keep children out of jail, and youth advocates have been lobbying to raise the age of criminal responsibility ahead of the meeting. Yet Australia’s Attorneys-General say more work is needed before they decide whether to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14.
The issue has been in the spotlight of late in correlation to the #BlackLivesMatter movement, with the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reporting last year that that over 60% of children in detention are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, and that this year the Northern Territory’s percentage of Indigenous children in detention equates to a staggering 96%.
“We need to empower these children and work with their families. And part of that is giving them a chance to mature, they haven’t learned life’s lessons at 10.” William Tilmouth, a member of the Stolen Generations, told the ABC. “It is still a conveyer belt for mainly poor and disadvantaged First Nations people. A conveyer belt from disadvantage to a draconian system and jail,” he said.
Many have since taken to social media to express their outrage.
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Yesterday the Australian government refused to raise the age of criminal responsibility, this means if you are 10 years old, you can be criminally liable and put into prison. Our juvenile justice detention centres are already full with children, in particular children being held on remand and not even convicted, however these children are forced to rot in prison, subjected to psychological, emotional, spiritual and physical abuse. I have too many nieces & nephews to be complacent. I am for no child EVER being incarcerated. This is a deep reminder of the blood and leadership of this country. Even in the mist of a national black lives matter movement we are again reminded that black lives DO NOT matter. Yes the system already disproportionately impacts Indigenous people and yes we will see the impact of institutionalisation and harm this does to all our children and young people. This is a national disgrace on behalf of Australia. Black lives matter, black children matter and we will keep demanding justice and that their liberties and rights are taken seriously. Silence is a choice, and my village is loud, you’re welcome to stand with us✊🏾📸 @balaluke
Really disheartening for everyone who has championed the cause of keeping kids out of jail as young as 10 which disproportionately affects indigenous children. Kids don’t belong in jail so keep up the advocacy and strength 👊💜 🙏 @Change_Record @amnestyOz #RaiseTheAge https://t.co/U5xBoGflgo
— Craig Foster (@Craig_Foster) July 28, 2020