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Archer Must Commit to Raising the Age

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Friday, 14 July 2023

Tags: Youth Justice, Children and Young People, Justice

Rosalie Woodruff MP | Acting Greens Leader

The Greens are strong supporters of raising the age of criminal responsibility, and we commend the Commissioner for Children and Young People’s advice to government on this crucial matter. It’s now time for the Attorney-General to act. 

Raising the age of criminal responsibility to a minimum of 14 years, without exceptions, is an essential step in reforming youth justice. This is a reform that experts, human rights groups, NGOs, social sector organisations, legal bodies, the Aboriginal community, and the Greens have been demanding for years.

Attorney-General Elise Archer previously said she wanted to wait for a nationally consistent approach to raising the age, but that horse has long since bolted. Across the country laws have changed in multiple states and territories, and Tasmania can and should prioritise following the Commissioner’s advice and changing the law.

Tasmania has two choices – to do the right thing for Tasmanian children, and commit to raising the age to 14 years. Or to continue to criminalise children and lock them up, despite the clear evidence of the lifelong harms and increase in re-offending this causes.

We recognise the Attorney-General indicated in December 2022 she had instructed her department to consider reforms to raise the age as a priority, but since then we have heard nothing. This is a real concern.

Given Tasmania’s terrible track record on youth justice, including further delays to close Ashley Youth Detention Centre, it’s even more important that Elise Archer stops commits to this reform, and to giving children who end up in strife a better crack at life.