The Tasmanian Government has announced that it will raise the age at which children can be incarcerated within a youth detention centre from 10 to 14. PeakCare is pleased that Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman has indicated in a recent speech to the Queensland Media Club that, following Tasmania’s move, she will now also look at the minimum age at which children can be imprisoned within our State. PeakCare’s view is that the Tasmanian policy change is certainly a step in the right direction, but one that does not go far enough.
As pointed out by the national Raise the Age Campaign, raising the age of criminal responsibility is not only about keeping young children out of detention. It is about ensuring that children under the age of at least 14 are not able to be arrested, handcuffed, fingerprinted, and hauled before courts in ways that dramatically increase the likelihood of them being placed on a trajectory into a lifetime involvement with the criminal justice system. It is about replacing their harmful involvement with the criminal justice system with age-appropriate, therapeutic and community-based strategies that are known through research to have much greater meaning to children and their families and far greater success in diverting children from involvement in criminal and anti-social behaviours. These are the strategies that are far better in achieving long-term safety of the community from crime. Surely those who have been the victims of youth crime deserve the assurance that the best possible, evidence-based responses are being provided by their Government in reducing the likelihood of either themselves or others experiencing crime in the future.
Ms Fentiman’s speech to the Queensland Media Club was followed soon after on 15th June by her tabling of an interim Government response to the Community Support and Services Committee report on the Criminal Law (Raising the Age of Responsibility) Amendment Bill 2021, that was tabled in Parliament on 15th March. Ms Fentiman indicated that the Government’s final response to the Committee’s Report will be tabled by 15th September. Click here to view the submissions that were originally lodged with the Committee including PeakCare’s submission.
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