16 November 2021
SHINE for Kids joins the voices of over 100 organisations around the country in condemning the Attorneys-General announcement on Friday that they have decided to ‘develop a proposal’ to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12 instead of 14 at the least.
This planned proposal is completely unacceptable to SHINE for Kids and we urge the AGs to commit to taking real action now to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 14 at the least.
Furthermore, we believe this announcement is an empty commitment and reveals the AG are not willing to take decisive action on this issue and instead intend to further delay progress towards raising the age. This stalling is only resulting in more children being subjected the immense harm and trauma of incarceration with every passing month.
We call on the AG and Australian governments to listen to the overwhelming medical evidence that 14 years old is the absolute youngest age a child should ever be subjected to the criminal legal system. Many 12 year olds are still in primary school and 13 year olds are starting their first year of high school. They are still developing biologically and emotionally and these formative years can set a child on a trajectory for the rest of their lives. If governments only raise the age to 12 years old, 456 out of the 499 children under 14 in prison last year would remain locked away behind bars.
As stated by April Long National Operations “In NSW, 50% of all children and 70% of Aboriginal children in juvenile detention have had a parent in prison. We need to reduce the number of children facing disadvantage and address the causes of intergenerational incarceration, not lock children up. Everyone knows that children do best when they are supported, nurtured and loved”.
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has called on countries to raise the age to at least 14 years old. China, Russia, Germany, Spain, Sierra Leone, Azerbaijan, Cambodia and Rwanda have taken this step and we must do the same for Australian kids.
We will not stop campaigning for reform until governments raise the age to at least 14 years old. Raising the age is one small step which governments can take which we know will change the life of generations of our young people to come.
SHINE for Kids is the only national charity providing crucial support to children and young people with incarcerated parents or relatives and has been operating for almost 40 years.
For all media enquiries, please contact Sophie Zoellner at [email protected]