‘They belong in school’: Victoria introduces bill to raise age of criminal responsibility to 12

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jun13,2024
Victoria will become the first Australian state to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 12 as long-awaited legislation arrives.
Premier Jacinta Allan and Youth Justice Minister Enver Erdogan announced the youth justice bill would be introduced to state parliament on Tuesday.
The standalone bill lifts the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12.
“Ten and 11-year-olds don’t belong in the criminal justice system … they belong in schools,” Allan told reporters.

Under the proposed legislation, Victorian police won’t be allowed to arrest or charge a child aged 10 or 11 with a crime but can transport children “somewhere safe and to someone who can take care of them”.

“There will be the ability to use limited force” and police would be able to “take the child by the arm…to put the child into a vehicle in order to protect them, to protect the community,” said Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes.
Children as young as 10 can be charged, convicted and imprisoned in every Australian state and territory except the Northern Territory, which raised the age of criminal responsibility to 12 in August.
The ACT passed legislation to raise the age to 14 by 2025 with some exceptions.
In 2023, the Victorian government from 10 to 12 years, before raising it again to 14 by 2027, with some exceptions.

Symes said the government would seek for the change to take effect in 2025 despite previously flagging a start date of late 2024.

Additionally, the bill would lower the age of prosecution for recruiting children to commit crimes from 21 to 18 and create a legislated scheme for warnings, cautions and diversions.
It would also enable a two-year trial of electronic monitoring of youth offenders on bail and codify the existing legal presumption requiring prosecutors to prove a child knew their conduct was wrong before they can be convicted of an offence —
Youth crime in Victoria has risen significantly since 2022, with children aged 14 to 17 linked to more than 18,700 crimes in the state in 2023 — about 30 per cent more than the previous year.
Victorian Opposition leader John Pesutto said the government had no plan to fund policing and youth programs to make the community safer.

“What we’ve seen from Premier Jacinta Allan and her ministers today is nothing more than a vacuous, two-page media release,” Pesutto said.

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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