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27 Australian lawmakers will have a historic opportunity at the Council of Attorneys-General Meeting to change these outdated laws by voting to raise the age of legal responsibility.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 Conversation, evidence shows children under 14 lack impulse control and have a poorly developed capacity to plan and foresee consequences
- A 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.