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.
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.”
“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”.