Following a three year hiatus, the Meeting of Attorneys-General (MAG) has supported a proposal to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12. While the announcement was timely with Universal Children’s Day last Saturday it remains inadequate. MAG’s announcement can only be seen as an acknowledgement of the need to raise the age in order to properly respect the rights of children but does not explain the rationale for their slated proposal which will continue to see children incarcerated and punished contrary to their human rights
In this way, NSWCCL stands with #raisetheage campaign members in calling out the announcement as nothing more than an “empty commitment” which lacks conviction based on evidence and will have the most minimal impact possible.
According to data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, raising the age to 12 would merely reduce the population of children under 14 in detention from 499 to 456. In the context of NSW, this would mean 99 out of the current population of 105 under-14s would remain imprisoned. Data has also consistently shown that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander identified children are most affected by the currently inadequate age of criminal responsibility.
NSWCCL calls for Attorney-General, Mark Speakman SC MP to show leadership and support the Children (Criminal Proceedings) Amendment (Age of Criminal Responsibility) Bill 2021 introduced into the Legislative Council by David Shoebridge MLC on 11 November 2021. The Bill would achieve the aims of raising the age of criminal responsibility to fourteen and would prevent young people under the age of 16 from being detained. In this way, the passing of the Bill would represent a great step forward for respecting the rights of children in NSW and place the state ahead of the lagging pack on this important issue.
Read our letter to the Premier