Media Release: No empty commitment – our kids’ lives matter

17 November 2021

MEDIA RELEASE                                                            

No empty commitment – our kids’ lives matter

ALRM is disappointed at the announcement that the Meeting of Attorneys General (MAG) “support developing a proposal to increase the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12 including with regard to any carve outs, timing and discussion of implementation supports.”

“This announcement does little to better the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, who make up a staggering 65% of the kids in the criminal legal system,” said ALRM CEO Chris Larkin.

Mr Larkin said there has been a chorus of support both nationally and internationally for Australia to raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility to at least 14 years old.

“Locking kids up in prison causes lifelong damage to their physical and mental development and means that they are more likely to get stuck in the cycle of the legal system,” he said.

“The medical evidence is clear – no child belongs in prison, but 14 years old is the absolute youngest age a child should be subjected to the criminal legal system.”

It has been over three years since the Attorneys General committed to exploring options to raise the age.

“This is yet another empty promise and further undermines an evidenced-based approach.

“ALRM believes three years of inaction is damaging the lives and futures of our kids – and we are sick and tired of meaningless statements.

In South Australia, over 90% of the children under 14 behind bars last year would remain locked away in prison cells.  ALRM will only support the raising of the age to 14.

“Raising the age is one action that Australian governments can take right now that will have an immediate and generational impact to end the over-incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids and to give our kids a future like that of every other child in Australia,” said Mr Larkin.

For further comment please contact ALRM CEO Chris Larkin on 8113 3777.