• The ACT has become the first jurisdiction in Australia to agree to raising the age of criminal responsibility to 14. (AAP)Source: AAP
The Australian Capital Territory has become the first jurisdiction in the country to agree to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14, in line with United Nations standards.
By
Keira Jenkins

Source:
NITV News
20 Aug 2020 - 2:44 PM  UPDATED 20 Aug 2020 - 2:44 PM

The Australian Capital Territory's Legislative Assembly has voted to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10, to 14, making it the first jurisdiction in Australia to agree to bring its laws with United Nations standards.

The resolution makes it the responsibility of the government that wins the upcoming state election in October to consider the legislation.

Amnesty International congratulated the ACT on the move, with justice campaigner Joel Clark saying the reform is 'well-overdue'.

"We all know in our hearts that it's wrong to lock little kids up, when all the evidence shows that diversion and justice reinvestment is what actually prevents youth offending," he said.

"There should be nothing stopping other jurisdictions to follow suit. The longer they wait, the longer little kids are exposed to the harmful conditions of prison."

'Children don't belong in prison'

ACT Greens Leader Shane Rattenbury said he was pleased to have secured the commitment.

"Children as young as 10 simply don't belong in prison," he said.

"Where children are imprisoned, it sets the trajectory for the rest of their lives and increases the risk they will be involved in the criminal justice system as they mature.

"We can better support these children by providing them with the help they need to stay on the right path."

Mr Rattenbury said he hopes other states and territories follow the lead.

"Australia's minimum age of criminal responsibility of 10 is well and truly out of step with the rest of the world and we have been chastised for this by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child," he said.

Last month, the Councils of Attorneys-General voted to postpone a decision on raising the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14 until 2021. 

Age of criminal responsibility to remain at 10-years-old
Following a major public campaign, the Council of Attorneys-General has not yet made a decision to raise Australia's age of criminal responsibility.