Raising the age of criminal responsibility has been identified as an area for urgent reform for the physical and psychological health of nearly 600 children under 14 who are locked up in prisons each year in Australia. This is a view shared by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, medical and legal experts, service providers, Australian and international human rights organisations, the global community and multiple foreign governments through United Nations (UN) processes, and UN human rights bodies.

Government must work collaboratively with children, families, communities and the community sector to design a framework and service system to raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility. If the Queensland Government is genuinely committed to Closing the Gap, raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility is a key reform needed to reduce the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the criminal justice system.

Young children do not belong in the criminal justice system, including prison. In consideration of Queensland’s Human Rights Act 2019 and following evidence of how best to respond to young children who engage in criminal activities, we believe the Queensland Parliament should raise the age of criminal responsibility to at least 14 years of age, and provide services and support to children, families, and communities.

QCOSS is a proud supporter of the #RaiseTheAge campaign.

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24 February 2022