The St Vincent de Paul Society calls for the age of criminal responsibility to be raised to 14 years

5 May 2022

The St Vincent de Paul Society NSW is calling for the age of criminal responsibility to be raised from 10 to 14 in the state and in all other jurisdictions around Australia.

“Young people should not be arrested, criminalised, or imprisoned,” St Vincent de Paul Society NSW CEO, Jack de Groot, said.

“This is especially important when it comes to First Nations children.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are unjustly over-represented when it comes to the criminal justice system.

“In NSW, just under a quarter of adult prisoners are First Nations people and so are more than half of juvenile detainees.

“Contact with the criminal justice system as a child often leads to a lifetime of disadvantage.

“These kids are not only less likely to finish their education, they are also very likely to reoffend.

“Imprisoning children doesn’t point them in the right direction, it typically does the opposite.

“It is frequently solely punitive and something that actively makes life worse for everyone,” Mr de Groot said.

“We need the State Government to change the law in NSW, raising the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14,” St Vincent de Paul Society NSW State Council President, Paul Burton, said.

“Every day, our members help people who are affected by disadvantage.

“For some of the people we assist, that includes time spent in prison.

“We do our part at the Society but we need greater levels of support in the community to help keep people out of prison in the first place and reduce recidivism.

“Investment in health, housing, and employment, preventing family violence, and improving community safety are much better ways to prevent crime than locking up kids.

“In fact, evidence shows detaining children just makes things worse,” Mr Burton said.

For more information on the Society’s vision for a Fairer Australia, please go to our website.

 Media contact: Lachlan Jones  |  0417 446 430