Jesuit Social Services says the Tasmanian Government’s commitment to ensuring children under 14 are not held in youth detention is just one step toward the ultimate goal of raising the age of criminal responsibility to 14.
Children and Youth Minister Roger Jaensch announced last week that the Tasmanian Government planned to raise the minimum age of youth detention from 10 to 14, describing it as a key element in a best-practice approach.
Jesuit Social Services chief Julie Edwards said the “move to keep young children out of youth detention is a positive step" but it did not go far enough to “change the trajectory of children coming into contact with the justice system”.
“To do that, we must stop criminalising the behaviour of children under 14. We can hold children to account while also working to understand what’s driving their behaviour and support them get their lives back on track without using a justice response," Ms Edwards said.
“Exposing children to the harms of detention means they are more, not less, likely to commit further offences. Instead, we must support children in the community wherever possible. We need trauma-informed approaches that seek to understand the drivers of anti-social behaviour and we need to connect children with family, community, culture and education to help them flourish.”
Ms Edwards said that while that has been progress in some states and territories to raise the age of criminal responsibility, there is yet to be legislative changes to achieve this outcome.
She said Jesuit Social Services’ discussion paper, "Raising the Age of Criminal Responsibility: There is a better way", outlines a range of practical ways in which children can be held accountable for their actions in ways that prevent further anti-social behaviour and better protect the entire community.
Tasmania takes positive step to keep young children out of detention (Jesuit Social Services)