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Why You’re Seeing Everyone Demand The Australian Government #RaiseTheAge Of Criminal Responsibility

Here's what it means and how to get involved

You’ve probably seen the many calls for the Australian government to ‘Raise The Age’ across your social media feeds in the past week. Following on from the momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement, many are urging lawmakers to keep children as young as 10 out of prison by raising the age of criminal responsibility. 

A child as young as 10 in Australia can be arrested by police, remanded in custody, convicted by the courts and imprisoned. In 2019, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child recommended 14 years as the minimum age of criminal responsibility, which is what the Raise The Age campaign is urging federal, state and territory governments to comply with. 

Per the Sydney Morning Heraldthere were almost 600 children aged 10 to 13 in detention in Australia last year, with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children disproportionately impacted by these laws and pushed into prison cells at even higher rates, accounting for 65 per cent of these younger children in prisons.

On July 27 Australian lawmakers will have a historic opportunity at the Council of Attorneys-General Meeting to change these outdated laws by voting to raise the age of legal responsibility. This simple change would bring Australia in line with international child rights law and medical evidence on child brain development. 

“All Australian children deserve to grow up in safe and fair environments,” Associate Professor Kris Rallah-Baker, President of the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association, said via the Raise The Age website. “For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children this includes having strong connections to family, culture and Country. Locking up Indigenous kids is traumatising and severely impacts their health and wellbeing. It is time to end the cycle of disadvantage by properly supporting communities and addressing laws and practices that unfairly impact Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids.”

Why Should The Age Be Raised? 

There are many well-founded reasons for increasing the minimum age of criminal responsibility in Australia to 14. 

  • Given the high numbers of Indigenous children aged between 10-13 in the justice system, there have been proven dramatic and devastating impacts 
  • Per The Conversationevidence shows children under 14 lack impulse control and have a poorly developed capacity to plan and foresee consequences
  • 2018 study found nine out of ten young people in Western Australian youth detention were severely impaired in at least one area of brain function

Instead of putting kids this young behind bars, governments can fund Indigenous-led solutions and community programs which have better outcomes for children and communities.

What Can You Do To Help?

Sign the Raise The Age petition

Add your voice to Amnesty International’s petition

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