• Calls are being made today to raise the age of criminal responsibility in Victoria. (AAP)Source: AAP
Social welfare groups argue age of criminal responsibility is too low and that locking children up does not stop re-offending.
19 Apr 2017 - 11:03 AM  UPDATED 19 Apr 2017 - 11:06 AM

Throwing Victoria's vulnerable young children in jail does nothing to stop their offending behaviour, social service groups will tell an inquiry into youth justice.

Berry Street and Jesuit Social Services will present their submissions to the Inquiry into Youth Justice Centres in Victoria on Wednesday.

Both groups say the age of criminal responsibility needs to be raised from 10 to the median international average of 13.5.

"Younger children may re-offend because they do not have the cognitive capacity to fully control their behaviour," Berry Street said in its submission.

"Incarcerating children, including those struggling with trauma, disadvantage and mental health issues will likely lead to more problems."

They say there needs to be improved intervention from social services so young offenders don't continue to cycle through the criminal justice system.

The inquiry was ordered after months of riots ended with parts of the Parkville youth justice centre becoming uninhabitable, a mass break out from the Malmsbury centre in January, and a legal fight over whether the youths can be held in an adult prison.

In the hearing on March 17, the inquiry heard teens in Victorian youth jails have suffered broken bones from "clumsy" restraints and had their self-harm wounds aggravated by handcuffs.

Ombudsman Deborah Glass also told the inquiry that youths were in lockdown at an "unacceptably high level".
The inquiry on Wednesday is also due to hear from Victoria Police, the Department of Justice and Regulation, and the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service.

A report on the findings of the inquiry is due on August 1.

AGE OF CRIMINAL RESPONSIBILITY
10: Australia, UK, US
12: Canada, Greece, Scotland
13: France, Israel
14: Germany, Italy, Denmark
16: Japan, Spain
18: Belgium, Luxembourg.

AAP