CETC-training-Private-online-course-feature-image

Minimum age of criminal responsibility in the ACT

Download PDF

 

This submission addresses the question of whether the age of criminal responsibility (MACR) should be increased and submits that the age should be raised from 10 years old to a minimum of 14 years old in the Australian Capital Territory.

Summary of recommendations

The Australian Childhood Foundation (ACF) recommends that the minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR) in the Australian Capital Territory be reformed in line with the following principles:

1. The minimum age of criminal responsibility be raised to at least 14 years.

2. The increased minimum age of criminal responsibility should be universal, with no exemptions due to extenuating circumstances, even for serious offences.

3. Should the minimum age of criminal responsibility be raised to age 14, the principle of doli incapax ceases to be relevant and should be abolished. However, young people aged 15–17 must still be provided safeguards in their contact with the justice system to ensure it is responsive and supportive of their individual circumstances and that treatment and proceedings are appropriate to their individual needs.

4. That the minimum age of detention be set at 16 years to decrease the likelihood of reoffending and provide greater opportunities for young people aged 10 to 15 years to achieve positive life-long outcomes with a view of detention as a matter of last resort for any young person under the age of 18.

5. Children and young people in the youth justice system have high rates of cognitive impairment, mental illness, and trauma. A therapeutic and supportive response to these children and their families outside of the youth justice system is urgently needed to provide protection not further harm for those in need.

6. That the Australian Capital Territory further develop and implement a Justice Reinvestment Strategy in partnership with community services, with the aim to shift the emphasis of youth justice from punishment to rehabilitation.

7. That funds previously allocated for the criminalisation and detention of children under 14 be re-allocated to prevention, early intervention, and diversionary responses linked to culturally safe and trauma-responsive services for this age-range.

8. That universal services in areas such as education, health, employment, and other community services be integrated into the youth justice system as key drivers of early intervention.

9. Ensure that Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) are prioritised and funded to deliver the planning, design and implementation of prevention, early intervention and diversionary responses for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people.

You may be interested in: Youth justice

Care criminalisation: issues and current research - Research brief
Care criminalisation: issues and current research - Research brief
Young people who are in, or have been in out-of-home care, particularly those with experience of living in residential care, are vulnerable to a number of negative outcomes, including having...
Read more
They came to us for care and left with a criminal record
They came to us for care and left with a criminal record
There is a nexus between living in Out of Home Care (OOHC) and being involved with the criminal justice system. In NSW children and young people in OOHC have been...
Read more
Leaving Care: What we know and don’t know about outcomes for young people
Leaving Care: What we know and don’t know about outcomes for young people
The research is clear: young people do not fare well when they leave care. Study after study, both in Australia and internationally, tells us that our care leavers are more...
Read more
Let’s Talk About the Summer Holiday – a poem about detention
Let’s Talk About the Summer Holiday – a poem about detention
"Let’s talk about the summer holiday, even though I’m in detention in was still fun aye. Because it was so hot, there was no time to use the indoor gym...
Read more
When systems designed to protect do harm
When systems designed to protect do harm
What comes to mind when you think about the child protection or youth justice system?  Protection and safeguarding? Rehabilitation? Trauma-informed care? These two complex and often interacting systems are intended...
Read more
Women in Leadership: Fiona Atkins at Ashley Youth Detention Centre
Women in Leadership: Fiona Atkins at Ashley Youth Detention Centre
The care of young people in detention has been a focus in the media both in Australia and overseas. Media reports have highlighted inadequate levels of care and abuse of...
Read more
Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility - alternative diversion model
Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility - alternative diversion model
The focus of this submission The Australian Childhood Foundation and Centre for Excellence in Therapeutic Care (CETC) are dedicated to upholding the rights of children and helping them to heal...
Read more
Student spotlight: John Gallagher on Youth Justice
Student spotlight: John Gallagher on Youth Justice
Over the past year, the Centre for Excellence in Therapeutic Care has launched its first blended learning program, CHC40521 - Certificate IV in Youth Justice.Dan Howell, Senior Manager for Training,...
Read more