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Julie Edwards (Jesuit Social Services)

Jesuit Social Services has welcomed the increase of the age of criminal responsibility in the Northern Territory from 10 to 12 years, with the new laws coming into effect yesterday. Source: National Indigenous Times.

The organisation said the move was a “positive step that will support some children to lead more positive lives” and the Territory Government must now look at the evidence of what approaches to youth justice work and raise the age to 14, with no exceptions, as soon as possible.

Jesuit Social Services chief executive Julie Edwards said it had been almost six years since the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory handed down its final report, which contained 227 evidence-based recommendations including for the Territory to raise the age of criminal responsibility.

“The Territory’s move to raise the age from 10 to 12 is the right step in helping children at risk of entering or remaining in the youth justice system to remain connected to their family, culture and community, while giving them opportunities to address the underlying factors behind their behaviour,” she said.

“These new laws mean that children aged 10 or 11 who engage in concerning behaviour will now be supported through diversion activities, restorative youth justice conferencing and reengagement with schools, ultimately helping them to lead positive and healthy lives.

“However, the job is only half done until the Territory raises the age of criminal responsibility to 14, with no exceptions. An analysis of 90 jurisdictions found that the most common international median age of criminal responsibility is 14, and by incarcerating primary-school aged children, Australia has long been out of step with human rights recommendations.”


Northern Territory raises age of criminal responsibility, but more work to be done say advocates (By Giovanni Torre, National Indigenous Times)