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Question: Age of Criminal Responsibility

2 November 2023

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (15:16): Supplementary: in light of news that the ACT is raising the age of criminal responsibility to 14, will the minister provide an update on the government's work on raising the age?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (15:17): I can provide an update. I commend the honourable member; I know this is something that is he is very interested in, as is his colleague in the ACT the Hon. Shane Rattenbury, who is a member of the Greens political party and is the ACT Attorney-General, with whom I have had very constructive discussions about what they are doing in the ACT.

If my memory serves me correctly, in the ACT the age is being raised to 12, with a view or a review to look to raise it to 14. I think that is what is happening in the Northern Territory as well, that step to 12. Victoria has announced an intention, I think, also to look at going to 12. Tasmania has announced a policy not to raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility but to raise the minimum age of detention—which in some respects will have a similar result, but in others it won't stop those very young children having that initial interaction with the criminal justice system that raising the age seeks to do.

I can assure the honourable member it is an issue that we are continuing to progress in this government. One thing that has become very apparent as we have done work on this that I think other jurisdictions have found is simply changing the number in legislation from 10 to 14—or from 10 to 12, as I think all other jurisdictions are starting with around Australia—wouldn't resolve or solve many problems. It is what is put in place of that interaction with the criminal justice system, and often they are the supports, the family supports, the therapeutic interventions—it is work on which there has been a massive effort already, and that is continuing.