Jesuit Social Services welcomes the opportunity to contribute to the Council of Attorneys-General Age of Criminal Responsibility Working Group review.
The current minimum age of legal responsibility in Australia at 10 years of age harms children, and in particular Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. It is discriminatory, and out of step with human rights standards and medical science on child development. The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has called for countries to have a minimum age of legal responsibility set at 14 or higher, and recommends that children under 16 should not be deprived of their liberty.
Jesuit Social Services supports the position endorsed by key groups across Australia – including National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services, Law Council of Australia, Australian Medical Association, Change the Record, Amnesty, HRLC and Royal Australasian College of Physicians – that the laws that dictate the age of legal responsibility in all States, Territories and the Commonwealth need to be reformed in line with the following principles:
As outlined in Raising the Age of Criminal Responsibility: There is a better way – we believe there are a number of reasons to make this change:
Jesuit Social Services calls for the final report with recommendations to the Council of Attorneys-General to be made public in order to respect and promote the views, knowledge and expertise of stakeholders and individuals who contribute to this critical discussion.