1st June 2018
Australia is lagging far behind the rest of the world in incarcerating children as young as 10, according to a roundtable of experts including National Congress, with Shadow Assistant for Indigenous Affairs Senator Pat Dodson and Shadow Attorney General Mark Dreyfus in Canberra yesterday in Canberra.
Representatives from the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association, UNICEF, Amnesty International, Human Rights Law Centre and National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services were also in attendance.
The roundtable has called on the Australian Labor Party to commit to increasing the minimum age of criminality to at least 14, which is the median age of criminality across the international community.
In 2016-2017, 600 children between the ages of 10 and 13 were incarcerated in children’s prisons. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are disproportionately impacted, representing two-thirds of the 10 to 13 year old children in prison. This shocking figure is even higher than national incarceration rates; while making up 3% of the population, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander represent 27% of the adult prison population.
Diversion and community-based alternatives are a far better alternative to imprisonment for young children.
“Children need the guidance and support of their families and communities to grow and thrive, so they don’t get stuck in the quicksand of the justice system for life”, said Cheryl Axleby, Co-Chair of NATSILS.
National Congress urges the government to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 14 immediately.
Media Contact Sophie Sauerman 02 8070 3100