Uniting Vic.Tas fully supports the decision of the Tasmanian Government to raise the minimum age of detention to 14 years.
While this doesn’t include raising the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14, which still applies in both Victoria and Tasmania, it is a step in the right direction.
For years, First Nations organisations, health, legal and human rights experts have been pleading for governments to raise the age of criminal responsibility to at least 14.
Uniting Vic.Tas CEO Bronwyn Pike said there is clear evidence that 14 is the youngest age a child should be subjected to the criminal legal system.
Many 12-year-olds are still in primary school. At 13, they are starting their first year of high school. These formative years set a child’s trajectory for the rest of their lives.
While other states and territories, including Victoria, have proposed to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 12, in our view, this doesn’t go far enough.
Australia’s approach on this issue has been roundly slammed by the United Nations, most recently at the United Nations Human Rights Council. The UN recommends raising the minimum age of detention to 16.
The current laws in Victoria and Tasmania still treat children as criminals. We think this is unfair and that these children should not be condemned in this way.
We’re now calling on the Victorian and Tasmanian governments to publicly commit to 14 as the age of criminal responsibility.