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Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan (ABC News)

Victoria is set to go past its own deadline to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12 by the end of the year, after introducing its mammoth 1000-page youth justice bill to Parliament yesterday. Source: The Age.

The Allan Government conceded the change might not be implemented this year as first promised when the government committed to the policy in 2023. Ministers expected it could take place in early 2025.

While police would not be able to arrest a 10- or 11-year-old, officers could still take them to a station to stop them hurting themselves or someone else. The Human Rights Law Centre said allowing police to use limited force or transport children under 12 undermined the purpose of the reform.

Youth Justice Minister Enver Erdogan said the Government still planned to eventually raise the age to 14, with exceptions for serious offences such as homicide or rape, and subject to an alternative service model that is currently being designed.

Aboriginal justice advocates and legal and health experts have campaigned for the government to immediately raise the age to 14 without exception.

The rule change is the centrepiece of a 1000-page bill that is the first piece of legislation dedicated solely to Victoria’s youth justice system.

It includes a scheme for warnings, cautions and early diversions that police will be able to use instead of formal charges for young offenders to avoid having them interact with the legal system.

“We know this works,” Premier Jacinta Allan said yesterday. “Evidence tells us that the earlier you can support young people to be diverted away from a life of crime to be put into supporting programs – that’s not just a good outcome for that young person.”

Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes said the Government had introduced it to Parliament before the winter break to give MPs and Victorians the opportunity to consider it properly before Parliament resumes at the end of July.

Shadow attorney-general Michael O’Brien said the Government’s changes would “redefine crime and pretend it isn’t happening”.


Raising the age of criminal responsibility set for 2025 as state unveils mammoth youth justice bill (By Kieran Rooney and Rachel Eddie, The Age)