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Too much too young: Raise the age of criminal responsibility to 12

Our paper urges all Australian governments to increase the age of criminal responsibility in Australia from 10 to 12. The minimum age of criminal responsibility across all Australian jurisdictions is 10, despite extensive scientific evidence the brains of children under 12 are not adequately developed for them to be criminally responsible.

We make six key recommendations for reform:

  1. Raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12 years across all jurisdictions
  2. Each state and territory to develop a mechanism to assess the needs of children under 12 exhibiting serious antisocial behaviour and ensure they receive appropriate support
  3. Maintain doli incapax for 12 and 13 year-olds and extend its applicability to 14 year-olds across all jurisdictions
  4. Include a framework for diversion of children in legislation in all jurisdictions
  5. Invest in pre-plea diversion programs in all Courts
  6. Invest in specialist Children’s Courts, such as the Koori Children’s Court, in each jurisdiction

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