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Victoria urged to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14

Save the Children is calling on Victorian MPs to back raising the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to at least 14.
18 March 2021

Save the Children is calling on Victorian MPs to back raising the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to at least 14. 

Just two months ago, 30 countries recommended that Australian Governments should raise the age of criminal responsibility to at least 14 at the United Nations Human Rights Council as part Australia’s third cycle Universal Periodic Review.

The Victorian Greens introduced a Bill to State Parliament today, which would give effect to those recommendations.  

Matt Gardiner, Executive Director of Australian Services said: 

“Save the Children strongly supports raising the criminal age of responsibility from 10 to 14 and we encourage all sides to move on this in unity. 

“No 10-year-old should ever end up behind bars.

“In January, 30 countries across the globe recommended Australian Governments to finally raise the age at the UN Human Rights Council. 

“The clear message was that we need to be supporting children – we should not be criminalising and jailing them. This Bill would give effect to those recommendations.

“We know that the younger a child is when they are first sentenced, the more likely they are to reoffend, including as an adult, and the severity of their offending is also likely to increase.

“On Closing the Gap day, this is a critical measure that would help to achieve targets to reduce the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the criminal justice system.

“The simple but important step of raising the age would go a long way to breaking the cycle of disadvantage.”


The Federal Government needs to provide a formal response to the Human Rights Council on behalf of Australia on 12 April and consultation has already taken place with state and territory governments to gain their views. Australia will then appear before the Human Rights Council’s 47th session in June or July to deliver its response to the recommendations made during the Universal Periodic Review.

Save the Children runs preventive, early intervention and diversionary initiatives in every state in Australia and the Northern Territory. 

Save the Children has been a leading voice on Australia’s third cycle Universal Periodic Review, including through the Australian NGO Coalition. That includes a 3 March submission to the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department on the Universal Periodic Review outcomes.

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For media inquiries contact Anna Jabour on 0403 322 992 

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