Queensland Council of Social Service (QCOSS) says the decision of the Meeting of Attorneys General (MAG) regarding the minimum age of criminal responsibility is meaningless.
“This ‘announcement’ is just political smoke and mirrors. If there is real political commitment to getting young children out of the criminal justice system, the Queensland Government should be taking decisive action not announcing a proposal,” said QCOSS CEO Aimee McVeigh.
“A decision to make a plan means nothing, especially for young children who are currently spending days in watch houses.
“Children younger than 14 should not be in prison. Many 12-year-olds are still in primary school. 13-year-olds are starting their first year of high school. These formative years can set a child on a trajectory for the rest of their lives.
“This proposal would not even meet the bare minimum standard that legal and medical experts including the Law Council and Australian Medical Association say is necessary: to raise the age to at least 14 years old.
“Covid-19 has taught us that governments can make transformative decisions overnight and that medical evidence should be followed. You can’t pick and choose the medical advice you follow.
“Three years ago, the Attorneys-General committed to explore options to raise the age. All they have done since then is kick the can down the road, while hundreds of Queensland’s children have remained behind bars.
“This is a further attempt to avoid responsibility for proper consideration of this critical reform and only serves to destroy the lives of Queensland’s kids before they even get the chance to attend high school.
“We must raise the age to 14. Anything else is a retrograde failure,” said McVeigh.