ACT Government leading the way in efforts to keep children out of prison

15 November 2021

ACTCOSS today commended the ACT Attorney General and ACT Government for its long-standing commitment to raising the age of criminal responsibility to 14 years – the only state or territory in Australia to do so.

This follows outrage from community, legal, health and First Nations groups about the decision of Friday’s Meeting of Attorneys General (MAG) to merely “support developing a proposal to increase the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12 including with regard to any carve outs, timeline and discussion of implementation supports.”

Dr Emma Campbell, ACTCOSS CEO said: “We are bitterly disappointed that the other states and territories are not following the ACT’s lead on this matter.

“The Decision by the MAG is an empty commitment that does nothing to give children the help they need to lead health and happy lives in their homes, schools and communities.

“Legal and medical experts including the Law Council and the Australian Medical Association have said that it is necessary to raise the age of criminal responsibility to at least 14 years of age.

“Kids belong in school and with their families and communities, not in prison cells. There is not a single shred of credible research that says putting children in jail helps them develop as useful members of society or that it reduces crime. This barbaric and damaging practice must end.

“Instead of locking children up we should be taking seriously our shared responsibility for their wellbeing and investing in programs and services that support them and their families before it’s too late. There is plenty of evidence for what works, we simply need to make that choice to invest in our children’s futures.

“ACTCOSS is proud to be based in the ACT, which is leading the country through its commitment to #RaisetheAge. We applaud the work done by the ACT Government and Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury and others to progress this critical issue and call on other jurisdictions to follow suit and take decisive, positive action,” Dr Campbell said.

ACTCOSS advocates for social justice in the ACT and represents not-for-profit community organisations.

For more information or comment, please contact

Dr Emma Campbell, CEO, ACTCOSS, on 0424 910 617 or 02 6202 7200.

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