Statement regarding reports that Victoria will raise the age of criminal responsibility

Quotes Attributable to Nerita Waight, CEO of VALS:

“The Premier promised to show leadership on raising the age of criminal responsibility and reports today that the government will only raise the age to 12 years old are incredibly disappointing.”

“If the Government is considering raising the age to 14 years old in the future, why can’t they do it now? Why is it okay to let 12 and 13 year olds continue to be targeted by police over the next few years? They deserve protection and support.”

“The Government needs to ask itself, what is its role when it comes to children in Victoria? Does it want to provide protection and support, or does it want to inflict trauma and harm? Today’s reports that the Government has rejected expert calls suggests they are comfortable making decisions that will perpetuate trauma and harm.”

“The Government should tell Victorians the full details about what they’ve decided as soon as possible. We need to know if there will be exemptions and what guarantee there will be in relation to raising the age to 14 years old in the future. If any behaviours are exempted, that would completely undermine the purpose of raising the age.”

“We believe the age of criminal responsibility should be raised to 14 years old immediately and we hope the Parliament will work with the Government to make this happen. If raising the age to 14 years old is delayed, we believe that the age of criminal responsibility should be raised to 14 years old before the next election, at the latest.”

“Aboriginal children are overpoliced and overincarcerated. Contact with the criminal legal system does great harm to our children and steals their opportunities to make a good life. It also has a negative impact on their families and communities which can cause generational trauma.”

“Aboriginal communities have campaigned for raising the age of criminal responsibility for many years no. We have been strong and clear in our voice. If the Government has decided not to listen to our voice, it should front up to our communities and explain why they ignored us.

“We are very upset that the Liberal Party continues to push the punitive tough on crime agenda that has lost them multiple elections. If they believe that locking up 10 year olds in prison is good or popular policy, then they are deeply flawed and unable to form policy based on actual evidence and data.”

“Raising the age of criminal responsibility will not just stop children being put in prison, it will stop contact with police, which is traumatising and stigmatising itself. Children that come into contact with police have complex needs that need to be addressed, such as stable housing and income, access to health and education services, and connection to community and culture. Contact with police only makes it harder for these children to get the help they deserve.”

“Doli Incapax does not stop contact with police and it is not even functioning well in the courts. Anyone who argues that Doli Incapax is a strong protection cannot be taken seriously – they clearly do not know how the system is operating.”


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