TasCOSS MEDIA RELEASE: Governments ignore advice on raising the age, let down Tasmanian families and children

17 November 2021

TasCOSS, the Youth Network of Tasmania (YNOT) and Community Legal Centres Tasmania (CLC Tas) are deeply disappointed and concerned by the decision of the Meeting of Attorneys-General to develop a plan to raise the age of criminal responsibility to only 12 years old. 

TasCOSS CEO Ms Adrienne Picone said government should heed the advice of the countless community organisations and leaders, including the Children’s Commissioners in every state and territory, who have highlighted the urgent need to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 14.

“A vague commitment to raise the age to 12 years is not good enough for our young people, their families and communities,” Ms Picone said.

“The proposed change is inconsistent with evidence from medical experts, recommendations of innumerable legal, health and community organisations who work with children and our international human rights obligations.

“Tasmanians expect the government to be responsive to community needs and evidence about what works best. This decision of the Attorneys-General flies in the face of evidence and is in nobody’s best interest.

“We know the children who are most likely to be involved in the youth justice system in Tasmania often come from disadvantaged backgrounds or marginalised communities. Tasmanian Aboriginal children, children who are experiencing poverty, children with mental health issues and children who live in areas of socio-economic disadvantage are all more likely to be involved with youth justice.

“Expert evidence shows that many children who end up in the criminal justice system have experienced trauma, abuse and neglect. These children need our care and protection, not imprisonment.

Ms Picone called on the Tasmanian Government to commit to measures we know work including early intervention and a greater range of therapeutic approaches to help children with complex needs, as well as their families.

“Children need strong families, access to education, a safe home and community support to thrive,” she said

“Raising the age of criminal responsibility to 14 is consistent with the Tasmanian Government’s stated aims of increasing child wellbeing and community safety.

“With this in mind, we once again urge the Tasmanian Government to commit to raising the age to 14, to give our children and families the best chance at a good life.”

For more information or to arrange an interview with TasCOSS CEO Adrienne Picone, please contact:

YNOT CEO Tania Hunt (ceo@ynot.org.au, 0427 466 189) and CLC Tas President Jane Hutchison (jane@hobartlegal.org.au, 0417 596 919) are also available for interviews.