December 12, 2017

Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) has called on the ACT Government to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 years to an absolute minimum of 12 years of age.

An 11-year-old girl recently appeared in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Children’s Court charged with offences relating to alleged violence against her carers. Due to the lack of a “therapeutic protection place”, which is legislated in the ACT Children and Young Person’s Act, she was sent back to her carers.

Organisations have noted a lack of services for those above 8 years of age but under 12 years of age in the Australian Capital Territory. Attempts have been made to set up a dedicated “therapeutic protection place” but this has failed to date

ALHR ACT Convenor Ms Sangeeta Sharmin says “The Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory recently recommended that the age of criminal responsibility be urgently raised to 12 years of age. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has stated very clearly that anything below 12 years of age is not internationally acceptable. Indeed, the European average is 14 years of age.”

“ALHR urges the ACT Government to set an example to other Australian jurisdictions by leading the way and raising the age of criminal responsibility to 14 years of age. We also call for urgent measures to create a “therapeutic protection place” as provided for under ACT legislation or a similar alternative to deal with children falling between the gaps and not receiving appropriate care.

“The results of the ACT taskforce looking into the achievements of a long-term youth justice framework should be released, recommendations made and implemented as a matter of urgency.”

Contact: Matt Mitchell, ALHR media manager 0431 980 365.