Call for urgent increase to age of criminal responsibility

Call for urgent increase to age of criminal responsibility

Media Release


The St Vincent de Paul Society in Australia National President Claire Victory comments on the release by the Standing Council of Attorneys-General of a draft report calling for the age of criminal responsibility to be increased.


Children as young as 10 years of age continue to be detained, kept in solitary confinement and disciplined with physical restraints across Australia due to the failure of Federal, State and Territory governments to take action on this straightforward reform.

These practices are a blight on our country.

In 2022 the Society’s members struggle to understand why we do not recognise the evidence that criminalising the behaviour of young people traps them in the criminal justice system. It continues a cycle of punishment for our young people who in many instances are victims of entrenched social and economic disadvantage.

Children belong in schools and playgrounds, not behind bars or being forced into locked isolation. This barbaric and systemic abuse is just not acceptable.

The entry of children into the youth justice system disproportionately impacts Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander children. It is heartbreaking to have to acknowledge that our governments, of all political persuasion, continue to demonstrate a complete ignorance of the disastrous impact of policies that continue to steal the childhood of our younger generation.

If Australian governments are serious about Closing the Gap with respect to incarceration and recidivism rates, they must take urgent action to lift the age of criminal responsibility.

Medical and scientific evidence shows that children under the age of 14 do not have the capacity to understand the consequences of their actions or the maturity required for criminal responsibility.

The St Vincent de Paul Society is calling on the Federal and State and Territory Governments to work together to lift the age of criminal responsibility to at least 14 years of age across Australia.

MEDIA CONTACT DETAILS: MOB: 0475 068 209 | E: media@svdp.org.au

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