Shoebridge Bill highlights need for action to raise age

Public Interest Advocacy Centre

An alliance of community, legal, and First Nations justice organisations has welcomed the Children (Criminal Proceedings) Amendment (Age of Criminal Responsibility) Bill 2021, introduced to NSW Parliament this morning by David Shoebridge MLC.

This Bill would raise the age of criminal responsibility in NSW to 14, creating both better outcomes for children kept out of detention, and better outcomes for the community.

The evidence for raising the age is clear, with decades of medical, social and legal research highlighting the harm caused by early contact with the criminal legal system.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are disproportionately harmed, accounting for 65 per cent of children aged 10 to 13 in detention.

In response to the Bill, the alliance of groups is calling on the NSW Government to support raising the age to 14 and to take concrete steps to make this a reality.

Taking action to raise the age to 14 would be a constructive and effective way to promote community safety and help children build positive futures.

Nadine Miles, Acting CEO of the Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) Limited:

‘At the Aboriginal Legal Service, we’ve gone to court to represent children that the evidence says shouldn’t be there at all. This is inexcusable – this is not what justice looks like. We welcome action to urgently raise the age and keep our youngest kids out of detention.’

Jonathon Hunyor, PIAC CEO:

‘The ball is in the Government’s court. We know the current system is failing our children and our community. And we know what needs to be done. It’s time for action to raise the age to 14.’

Geoffrey Winters, CEO, Just Reinvest NSW:

‘Just Reinvest NSW welcomes the Bill and calls on the NSW Government to take action now to raise the age and build safer, stronger communities by investing in early intervention and other programs that support children.’

Media release endorsed by:

Public Interest Advocacy Centre

Aboriginal Legal Service NSW/ACT

Just Reinvest NSW

Justice Reform Initiative

The Shopfront Youth Legal Centre

Youth Action

Amnesty International

Weave Youth & Community Services

Human Rights Law Centre

Community Legal Centres NSW

/Public Release.