Across Australia, children as young as 10 are charged, brought before a court, sentenced and locked up behind bars. Despite overwhelming evidence from health experts, social workers, Indigenous leaders, legal experts and human rights organisations, Australian Governments are choosing to lock up children as young as 10 years old. This disproportionately impacts Indigenous youth. We need to stop playing politics with children’s lives!
The #RaiseTheAge campaign has rallied the support of over 100,000 Australians and together, we called on Australia’s Attorney Generals and Premiers to do the right thing and raise the age to at least 14 years. Last Friday, after three years of complete inaction, they announced a vague commitment to “develop a proposal” to only raise the age to 12.This is not enough!
The AGs have been sitting on a proposal for over a year that was developed by their own working group after they consulted widely with the public on the question of raising the age. No child belongs in prison – but 14 years old is the absolute youngest age a child should ever be subjected to the criminal legal system. Many 12 year olds are still in primary school. 13 year olds are starting their first year of high school. These formative years can set a child on a trajectory for the rest of their lives. If governments only raise the age to 12 years old, then 456 out of the 499 children under 14 in prison last year would remain locked away behind bars.
Now more than ever we need to continue pushing key decision-makers closer to the goal of raising the age to 14 and demonstrate that all Australians demand fairness and equality in our justice system.