Following the likely return of the Gunner Labor party to office in the Northern Territory, the government must now make good on its promise to raise the age of criminal responsibility.
In 2017, the Gunner government committed to recommendations from the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory including to raise the age of criminal responsibility.
“As we’ve seen in the ACT this past week, this reform is not only the right thing to do, it has widespread public support,” Amnesty International Australia Indigenous Rights Advisor Rodney Dillon said.
“The NT government needs to raise the age from 10 to 14 inline with international standards, and needs to provide a timeline for doing so to ensure it upholds its commitment to the children in its care.
“There is absolutely nothing preventing States and Territories from improving this archaic legislation to keep kids out of prison so they can live happy and healthy lives free from the quicksand of the criminal justice system.
“Like the ACT, the Northern Territory has the opportunity to lead the country in addressing the shameful overrepresentation of Indigenous people in Australian jails.”
The Councils of Attorneys-General met last month and agreed to reconstitute the working group to examine raising the age, with action on the issue unlikely until 2021. However, States and Territories are able to reform this legislation without CAG consensus. The ACT last week approved a motion to raise the age of criminal responsibility, paving the way for other jurisdictions to follow.