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“I could do it tomorrow” - Attorney General boasts that he can, and will not, raise age of criminal responsibility.

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Sue Higginson
NSW Greens MP
17 April 2024

6 March 2024 - The Attorney General could raise the age of criminal responsibility tomorrow, and will not, he boasted under questioning in Budget Estimates this morning. 

Greens MP and spokesperson for justice Sue Higginson said “Kids need care, they need opportunities, not prison sentences. It’s an open secret that locking 10 year olds up just doesn’t work. Country mayors are begging for more support for diversionary measures. Families and communities are crying out for the creation of safe environments where kids can get fed and receive career help, education and services to ensure they don’t end up in these situations to begin with.”

“Putting kids in custody ruins lives and tears families apart. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids are massively overrepresented in the justice system and if the Government takes seriously its commitment to Closing the Gap, raising the age of criminal responsibility is a straightforward first step - so straightforward, the Attorney General points out, he could do it tomorrow.”

“The call from the community is unanimous, the call from the experts is unanimous. The Northern Territory has raised the age to 12. Victoria has committed to raising the age to 14. The ACT will raise the age to 14 next year. Tasmania has committed to raising the age to 16. The NSW Attorney General cannot so much as give us a timeline for this decision - other than to say he won’t be doing it tomorrow.”

“Kids who are incarcerated have an 81% chance of reoffending. By locking them up we are pushing them into a life of crime. The entire corrections system is failing and the Attorney General has admitted as much. And yet he boasts that we will continue to lock children up because we do not have the services to meaningfully support them. It is a pathetic admission. An appalling and total social failure. It is destroying the lives of our most vulnerable.”

The statements follow comments from the Minister for Youth Justice Jihad Dib and the Minister for Families and Communities, Kate Washington, who in Budget Estimates have both expressed frustration at a lack of progress being made to keep young people out of the justice system, especially Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children, which spends almost $800,000 a year on every child kept in custody. Both insist that the age of criminal responsibility was a question for the Attorney General.

“We have young people really at risk of having a life that doesn't reach its full potential, because we just spend a little bit too long thinking about what we're going to do,” Dib said.


profile image
Sue Higginson
NSW Greens MP
17 April 2024


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