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On raising the age of criminal responsibility – petition presented to Queensland’s Attorney-General

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On Monday, 22nd August 2022, a petition calling for the age of criminal responsibility to be raised from 10 to 14 was presented to Queensland’s Attorney-General, the Honourable Shannon Fentiman MP. The petition contained 26,853 signatures with many of these signatories being the heads of organisations or associations each representing the voices of many hundreds, if not thousands, of their staff and members. The petition was presented to the Attorney-General by sector leaders including Matt Gardiner (54 Reasons – formerly Save the Children), Aimee McVeigh (QCOSS), Damien Atkinson (Youth Advocacy Centre) and Lindsay Wegener (PeakCare Queensland).

Presentation of the petition followed similar petitions having been handed to the Attorneys-General of several other States and Territories and the Commonwealth Government which contained around 200,000 signatures.

Presentation of the Queensland petition followed less than a week after heated debate in Parliament during which a Bill to raise the age of criminal responsibility was defeated, as reported on in the 18th August edition of eNews.

Listen to this interview of PeakCare’s Lindsay Wegener conducted by the ABC’s Rebecca Levingston prior to the petition being handed over.

You may also like to read this article, published by the Courier Mail, Mercury, Gold Coast Bulletin, Toowoomba Chronicle and the Herald Sun within which Queensland Police Union President Ian Leavers states his opposition to raising the age on the basis that it would create a generation of “invisible criminals”. Mr Leavers argues that while Police “don’t want to arrest juvenile offenders or have them held in watchhouses… the community do expect consequences for bad behaviour”. While Mr Leavers states that Police have success in diverting 90 per cent of young offenders from criminal behaviour, “other government and support agencies need to do their bit”.

These media publications also reported on a poll they conducted. Of around 3,000 respondents to the poll, 11% voted that ‘Yes, kids under 14 shouldn’t be in jail’, 85% voted that ‘No, 10 year-olds know right from wrong’ and 4% said that they were ‘not sure’.

Tell us your opinion. Do you support or not support the petition to raise the age of criminal responsibility? Do you agree or disagree with the issues discussed by Lindsay Wegener in his interview with ABC radio? Do you agree or disagree with the comments made by Mr Leavers? Do you agree or disagree with the findings of the poll? Your comments can be entered here, anonymously if you prefer. Now is the time to make your views known.

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3 Comments

  1. Eilidh Mcwhirter on August 29, 2022 at 10:27 am

    Even 14 still teeters on too young!
    It is a shame to lock someone up at the young age of 10. Unjustified!

  2. Youth Worker on August 31, 2022 at 3:24 pm

    I am not in support of raising the age of criminal responsibility. I have worked in the residential care sector for a number of years, typically working with young people that demonstrate extreme behaviour and are recidivist offenders.
    While I have extensive knowledge around trauma informed care and the impact that trauma can have on a young person’s development, I am also aware of the significant issue communities are facing in relation to youth crime.
    In my experience, young people who demonstrate extreme behaviours and are recidivist’s offenders appear to just stop engaging in these behaviours when they turn 18 and exit care. Why? Because they are aware of the real life consequences they are about to face.
    Challenging your opinion on raising the age of criminal responsibility does not draw criticism to the residential care sector, it further highlights a system that is not working. Residential care sector workers do not make the law and more often than not, create more changes in behaviours through consistency and realistic consequences.
    I personally have worked with young people who have proactively caused physical and emotional injuries to members of the public and have displayed no remorse and have made statements indicating that the legal system is a joke. I have personally witnessed these same young people have meeting with their lawyers, who are openly advocating that they do not have the intellectual capacity to know right from wrong.
    There has been a massive shift in the young people in residential care over the last five years, where residential care workers are no longer supporting young people with pain-based and reactive behaviours. More often than not it is proactive and a significant risk to the community. I would genuinely be interested to know when members who are advocating for raising the age actually worked with young people?
    It takes a number of criminal charges in order for a young person to be placed in Detention. Young people across Queensland are recidivist offenders due to there being no consequences, maybe a referral to Youth Justice if that. Then comes the “bail conditions”, where a young person is placed on a curfew but there is no consequence if the young person chooses to break this curfew as it is not a criminal offence. Or maybe the young person is required to engage in Community Services, which may include attending a BBQ with likewise peers.
    The fact that there is comments in support of the age being raised to 24 is concerning. There is young people in Queensland with up to 500 chargers to their name. Imagine if you or a loved one were a victim at the hands of a significant crime that left you permanently injured only to be told that there is going to be no criminal proceeding due to the “young” person not having a fully developed brain. Unless you have been in this position, I do not feel that anyone can fathom the impacts that being told there is going to be no consequence for the perpetrator and are free to continue life in the community would have on you. E.g. a death due to a stolen vehicle.
    At the end of the day, numerous people that work across our industry and within the detention centre themselves are aware of the lack of deterrence due to the current consequences and lack thereof. Lets not forget this is a jail and not a recreational facility, which according to the young people is what it presents as.

  3. PeakCare on August 31, 2022 at 4:07 pm

    Comments in response to this news article can be made under the dedicated post here – https://peakcare.org.au/petition-to-raise-the-age-presented-to-queenslands-attorney-general/#comment-4926

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Read More

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“If we are demanding children to be accountable, we must be accountable to these children first and provide preventable measures…

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