TasCOSS, along with key organisations involved in the delivery of services to children and young people, strongly support the Memorandum of Advice issued by the Commissioner for Children and Young People (CCYP) Tasmania today which calls on the Tasmanian Government to raise the age of criminal responsibility in Tasmania to at least 14, among other welcome recommendations.
We know the current youth justice system is not providing enough support for young Tasmanians and their families, particularly those who are already facing social and economic difficulties.
Young people in out-of-home care, Aboriginal children and those with lived experience of poverty, abuse or trauma are all overrepresented in our youth justice system. Those within the youth justice system are also struggling to receive the support and care they need, with involvement in the criminal justice system as a young person linked to criminalisation and incarceration in later life.
We advocate for reform to better support Tasmanian children and their families, including the need for strengthened community-based services to respond to the needs of those young people who are involved in, or at risk of, becoming involved in, the youth justice system. We also advocate on behalf of the community services industry who work with these children and their families.
We strongly support the recommendations of the CCYP, which include the following:
- The Tasmanian Government should commit to raising the age of criminal responsibility to at least 14, with no exceptions, within the next two years;
- The Tasmanian Government should commit to a comprehensive legislative review to create effective pathways to respond to the needs of young people, based on independent advice (including the recommendations of the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute);
- Alongside legislative reform, the Tasmanian Government should also commit to comprehensive, child-centered service system reform to respond to the needs of children and families; and
- All legislative and policy reforms should be child-centered, recognise the right of Aboriginal communities and families to determine appropriate responses for their children, and empower families and communities to take an active role in promoting and maintaining the wellbeing of their children.
We urge the Tasmanian Government to immediately commit to the recommendations of the CCYP and implement changes to better support our community.