Greens push for criminal responsibility age change on first sitting of new parliament

The Greens will push to introduce a bill to raise the age of criminal responsibility in Victoria from 10 to 14 as the state’s 60th parliament sits for the first time.

Australian Greens Victoria leader Samantha Ratnam said children should be protected, rather than charged and convicted.

She said the nation’s current age of criminal responsibility was far too young compared to other international counterparts.

Victorian Greens leader Samantha Ratnam said children should be protected, rather than charged and convicted. (Nine)

The Greens’ Children, Youth and Families (Raise the Age) Amendment Bill 2022 would also prohibit in law the use of solitary confinement on children held in youth detention.

“We need to treat children as children, not as criminals,” Ratnam said.

“Criminalising children creates a vicious cycle of disadvantage and only deepens the racial injustice in this country.

“As a community, we have a duty to listen to First Nations people who are crying out for justice reform including raising the age of criminal responsibility.

“Children need to be kept out of the justice system for as long as possible. Locking them up at such a young age makes them more likely to re-offend.”

Victorian Greens leader Samantha Ratnam said the bill would also prohibit in law the use of solitary confinement on children held in youth detention. (AAP)
Last month, Australia’s medical colleges penned an open letter calling on the federal government to raise the age of criminal responsibility.

“It is a disgrace that children under 14 in Australia are still being locked up and this flies in the face of all medical evidence and advice,” Small said.

However the decision to raise the age of criminal responsibility rests with individual states and territories.

Ratnam said by passing the bill, the Victorian government had the “opportunity to lead the way on reform and encourage other states to follow suit”.

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