The Law Council of Australia is deeply concerned about a proposal to detain 10-year-old terror suspects for up to two weeks without charge.
Australian lawyers are deeply concerned about the prospect of children as young as 10 being held without charge for up to 14 days under new national terror rules.
The harsh "pre-charge" detention scheme for terror suspects was part of a suite of measures agreed to at a special Council of Australian Governments counter-terror meeting in Canberra this week.
A major focus of the forum was an agreement by chief ministers to make drivers licenses more readily available to police, with serious concerns raised about the impact on civil liberties.
But Law Council of Australia president Fiona McLeod is particularly concerned by the "draconian" idea of detaining 10-year-olds for two weeks without charge, which was ushered in with little attention.
Ms McLeod said the issue boiled down to drawing a line between protecting community safety and intruding on the lives of people who - in the case of children - may not be capable of forming criminal intent.
"To suggest they could be detained for a couple of weeks without charge and without oversight of the courts is really a step too far," she told AAP.
"We're talking about grade four kids, for God's sakes."
Justice Minister Michael Keenan on Thursday conceded it was "deeply regrettable" children so young may be captured by the rules, but said the reality was Islamic State specialised in recruiting kids.
Mr Keenan pointed to the 15-year-old killer of NSW police employee Curtis Cheng and the arrests of 16-year-olds for planning terror attacks on Australian soil.
In NSW, children as young as 14 can already be held without charge for up to two weeks.
But there remains an assumption children are incapable of forming criminal intent, unless a prosecutor can convince a judge there is proof to suggest otherwise.
"What we're talking about here is police not having that sort of oversight, just being able to exercise discretion themselves, and forming the view that some child is criminally responsible or potentially is," Ms McLeod said.
"And then without charging them, without bringing them before a court, removing them from their families for up to two weeks."
Minister Keenan has insisted there will be "an enormous level of safeguards" in place where 10-year-old children are concerned, and said he hoped the circumstances never arose where the powers would need to be used.
Ms McLeod said legal professionals were much more familiar with the idea that children aged between 15 and 16 were capable of criminal responsibility.
"But to suggest they might need these powers, and ... have an assurance they'd prefer not to use them, is really of no comfort at all," she said.