Amnesty International plans to meet the new federal Attorney-General to discuss raising the age of criminal responsibility.
Stephanie Corsetti

30 Mar 2021 - 2:57 PM  UPDATED 30 Mar 2021 - 2:57 PM

A human rights organisation is advocating for Indigenous-led solutions to stop young First Nations children ending up in prison.

Michaelia Cash has replaced Christian Porter as the new federal Attorney-General in this week's cabinet reshuffle. 

Amnesty International Australia has urged Senator Cash to direct states and territories to raise the age of criminal responsibility to at least 14 years.

Amnesty's National Director Sam Klintworth said this vital reform was being delayed.

"We need to have the courage to make long-lasting systemic change," he said.  

There has been growing community awareness and concern that children as young as ten can be arrested and charged with an offence.

"Children who are locked up are three times more likely to reoffend and there is a large and ever growing body of evidence to show that diversion programs are much more effective in tackling youth crime," Mr Klintworth said. 

The 'Raise the Age' campaign has pushed for criminal responsibility to be raised to 14 years.

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.

A Council of Attorneys-General rejected the calls for change in July last year. 

Amnesty International said this included considering alternatives to prison for youth aged under 14 years. 

Amnesty's Indigenous rights adviser Rodney Dillon will be hoping the Attorney-General appointment will reignite calls for a higher age of criminal responsibility.

"Along with a new Attorney-General I think comes opportunities to talk about these issues," Mr Dillon said. 

"I think a lot of campaigning needs to be done around understanding the evidence base that we've got about raising the age of criminal responsibility," he said. 

He will be pushing all Attorneys-General to show their support for taking steps towards changing the age. 

Amnesty added that if the government was serious about closing the gap, then reforms to the age of criminal responsibility have widespread support.

More than 75,000 people have signed an Amnesty petition calling for the age to be increased from 10 to 14.