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Attorneys-General need to lift their game and raise the age to 14, say Greens

Media Release
Lidia Thorpe 15 Nov 2021

The Australian Greens condemn the move by the Meeting of Attorneys General (MAG) towards raising the age of legal responsibility from 10 to 12 years of age. 

“The MAG announcement shows a deliberate disregard of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, medical evidence and First Nations advocates. The experts all agree: we need to raise the age of legal responsibility to 14.” Said the Greens spokesperson for Justice and First Nations, Senator Lidia Thorpe.

“499 children aged between 10 and 13 were imprisoned last year: 91% were 12 or over. MAG’s proposal would keep most of our kids in jail.” Said Thorpe.

“We’re talking about the safety and wellbeing of our children in this country. This is far too important to be wasting time with pointless announcements."

“Aggressive policing, coupled with racist laws and policies like the refusal to raise the age to at least 14, is deliberately targeting First Nations children who account for a staggering 65% of children who are jailed in this country. Often for low level, non-violent offending."

“Having such a low age of legal responsibility is impacting First Nations children the most. Separating children from their families, communities, education and culture is causing lasting damage."

“Children who are at risk of getting trapped in the criminal legal system need supportive bail and community corrections programs to divert them away from prisons and back into the community."

“Children do their best when they are in loving and caring environments with access to great healthcare, education and community support. This amounts to nothing more than smoke and mirrors from the Morrison Government. It’s a complete and total sham by the MAG."

“In solidarity with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services, First Nations health services, human rights, legal, and medical services and their peak bodies, The Greens are demanding that the MAG increase the age of legal responsibility from 10 to at least 14."

“Instead of jailing children for minor crimes, the Morrison government needs to fund and resource First Nations organisations in particular to support children to get back on the right path through culturally safe and supportive diversionary programs."

“I commend Greens across the country who are pushing for this change, like Attorney-General of the ACT Shane Rattenbury, Dr Tim Read in Victoria, and Michael Berkman in Queensland. If the MAG won't do what's right they must step out of the way because The Greens will.” Said Thorpe. 

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