Joint Submission to Review of Age of Criminal Responsibility
The Australian Youth Affairs Coalition (AYAC) together with Youth Action and the other state and territory youth sector peak bodies across Australia created a joint submission calling on the Council of Attorneys-General (COAG) and the Australian Government to raise the age of legal criminal responsibility from 10 years to 14.
Children as young as 10 years old in Australia are being arrested, prosecuted and detained in prisons. They are being torn away from their families, communities and culture. They are being incarcerated in facilities that increase the likelihood of reoffending when compared to suitable alternatives, such as youth work programs and community supports. In Australia, there are around 600 children below the age of 14 who are locked up in prison each year.
Children and young people deserve supports that enable them to succeed. This is particularly important for children between the ages of 10–14. The earlier children have contact with the criminal justice system, the more likely they are to have long term involvement in crime. Raising the age of criminal responsibility will reduce long term offending and increase community safety.
The Australian community, including state and territory governments, is collectively responsible for supporting children and young people to reach their potential and become positive and productive citizens. Raising the age of criminal responsibility to 14 is an appropriate first step toward reducing overrepresentation of particular cohorts of young people, and better supporting children and young people in Australia.