The Justice Health Unit made a submission to a review of the age of criminal responsibility in Australia, being undertaken by the Council of Attorneys General (COAG). Australia has one of the lowest ages of criminal responsibility in the world: children as young as ten can currently be arrested, convicted of crimes, and imprisoned. This is contrary to evidence on child health and development, as well as directions from the United Nations.
Our submission sets out the arguments for raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility to at least 14 years old. We argue that no child under 16 years old should be detained in the criminal justice system, and provide recommendations for an alternative approach to youth justice in Australia.