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Save the Children supports call to raise the age of criminal responsibility

Child Rights Scorecard finds no good rationale for detaining children under the age of 14
21 November 2019

Save the Children welcomes the release of the National Children's Commissioner scorecard evaluating children’s rights across Australia. In particular, the children’s agency supports the recommendation to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14. 

The scorecard assesses how well children’s rights are protected and promoted in Australia against the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). It signals many areas where Australia needs to do more to protect children’s rights.

Save the Children’s Executive Director of Australian Services Matt Gardiner said the agency had long been advocating for the criminal age of responsibility to be raised and urged the government to make this an urgent national priority.

“The evidence is clear that locking up kids under the age of 14 disproportionately harms those who are already disadvantaged – especially Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children – and often leads to further offending,” Mr Gardiner said.

“Having a minimum age of responsibility set at just 10 puts Australia out of step with international standards and is in direct contravention of the CRC.

“Instead of jailing children we should be investing in providing these children with the necessary support to address their underlying issues.

“Australian Governments can and should immediately agree to raise the age of criminal responsibility when the Federal Attorney-General and his state and territory counterparts meet to discuss this issue next Friday in Adelaide.” 

Save the Children also welcomed the scorecard’s recommendation to give children greater opportunity to express their views and have a more active role in decision making on matters that affect them, a core principle of the CRC

“We must do better in enabling children to express their views on matters that directly affect them. Better consultation both safeguards and empowers children and leads to better decision making,” Mr Gardiner said.

“Evidence shows that what gets measured, gets done. Appointing a Cabinet level Minister for Children with a strong mandate to involve children and listen to their recommendations will go a long way to driving children’s issues at the federal level.”

Save the Children’s recent submission to the Australian Human Rights Commission about protecting and promoting children’s rights in Australia as part of the ‘Free and Equal’ National Conversation is available to view here

The scorecard was released on International Children’s Day, coinciding with the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

For interviews, call Jess Brennan on 0421 334 9180.

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