The Victorian Greens have said given the failure of state and territory attorneys-general to act, it’s time for the Victorian Government to lead the way and raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14.
Despite increasing pressure from human rights groups, First Nations advocates and the Greens to adopt the reform, Australia’s attorneys-general have yet to take action since deferring a decision on the issue more than a year ago.
Victorian Greens spokesperson for justice, Dr Tim Read, said the Victorian Government was at a crossroads.
MPs across the political spectrum have already started to break ranks and support the reform, joining calls to raise the age from groups as diverse as Change the Record, Amnesty Australia, NATSILS, the UN, and the Australian Medical Association.
Dr Read said children should be cared for and protected, supported and guided to learn and grow, not charged, convicted and even imprisoned.
Earlier this year the Victorian Greens second-read a bill that would raise the age in Victoria.
If passed, the Greens’ bill would amend section 344 of the Children Youth and Families Act 2005, and commence in November 2022.
The delayed start would allow sufficient time for existing therapeutic and restorative programs and pathways to be developed and strengthened to divert children under 14 from the criminal justice system.
As stated by Victorian Greens spokesperson for justice, Dr Tim Read:
“If Australia’s A-Gs are going to continue to drop the ball on this issue, it’s time for the Victorian Government to pick it up.
“This country’s track record of pushing kids as young as ten through the school-to-prison pipeline is a national disgrace.
“Our bill would raise the age of criminal responsibility so that kids as young as ten are supported rather than punished.
“By passing our bill, the Victorian Government has the opportunity to lead the way on reform and encourage other states to follow suit.”