We are very disappointed with the Victorian Government’s plans to raise the age of criminal responsibility to only 12 years of age, with a commitment to raise it to 14 years in 2027. We urge the Government to immediately raise the age to at least 14 years.

Twelve- and 13-year-olds belong in schools, not prisons. Putting children in prison does not make for safer, stronger communities.

Our position to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 14 years of age is clear, and in accordance with internationally accepted standards, medical evidence on child development, and the United Nations. By pushing out that goal until 2027, many more 12- and 13-year-olds will enter the criminal justice system.

Evidence shows that the earlier a child is imprisoned, the greater the risk is for that child to become entrenched in the criminal justice system and reoffend later in life. Non-judicial, community-led solutions offer better outcomes for children, and ultimately their families and communities.

We know children under 14 years of age are not capable of making comprehensive judgements about the consequences of their behaviour; interaction with the criminal justice system at a formative time in a child’s development can permanently harm their health, wellbeing, and their future.

As a member of the #RaiseTheAge campaign, we are committed to upholding the human rights of children and young people in Victoria by continuing to advocate for the age of criminal responsibility to be raise to at least 14 years of age immediately.