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SA out of step on raising the age of criminal responsibility

UPDATE: On 4 November, SACOSS brought together a coalition of SA organisations working towards raising the age of criminal responsibility to at least 14 years in this state. 

We all know that children do best and flourish when they are supported, encouraged and loved. But children as young as 10 can be arrested by police, charged with an offence, brought before a court and locked in a prison.

In South Australia, and across Australia, the age of criminal responsibility – the age at which a child can be locked up in prison – is 10 years old. We know that the criminal legal system disproportionately affects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

We are out of step with the international median of 14 years old. We’re out of step with more than 30 countries who called on Australia to raise the age of criminal responsibility through the United Nations Periodic Review process.

We’re out of step with the evidence provided by medical and mental health experts about the life-long harms caused by locking up children.

We’re out of step on so many levels when it comes to doing the right thing in the best interests of children.

It’s time for the federal, state and territory governments to do what’s right and change the laws to raise the age, so that children aged 10 to 13 years are not detained.

SACOSS and a number of SA organisations are supporting the national campaign to raise the age. On 4 November, SACOSS hosted an online forum to bring together a coalition of SA organisations who are supportive and working towards raising the age of criminal responsibility to at least 14 years in this state.

The forum participants heard about developments with the national raise the age campaign from Change the Record. This was followed by updates from SA organisations who are working on the campaign. A core set of guiding principles were discussed and we mapped out ideas for co-ordinating and sharing ideas and resources.

We’re planning a public Raise the Age webinar in December. Watch this space!  

If you would like to know more about the Raise the Age campaign and coalition in South Australia, please contact susan@sacoss.org.au. You can find out more about the national campaign at the Raise the Age website.