MEDIA RELEASE: Raise the age NOW

The Northern Territory Government must act to keep children out of detention by immediately raising the age of criminal responsibility.
“Today marks four years since the final report of the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the NT was tabled in Parliament, and still children as young as 10 are locked up,” said CEO of the Northern Territory Council of Social Service, Deborah Di Natale.
“This week we have seen the nation’s Attorneys General support development of a proposal to increase the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12.
“This comes three years after the Attorneys General first committed to explore options to raise the age, and then failed to release the report, much less act.
“The time for reports, proposals and ‘in principle support’ is over.
“We need action now.
“The evidence is overwhelming that locking up children destroys lives and does nothing to benefit the community.
“Detaining children who need our help, results in lifelong developmental and mental health trauma, and sees them less likely to finish school or get a job.
“Territory kids need to be supported to thrive, not locked away.”
Principal Legal Officer for the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency, David Woodroffe said raising the age to 12 is at best, a first step.
“All the evidence tells us: we must raise the age to 14 years to keep children out of a failed system that perpetuates the over-incarceration of Aboriginal children.
“The NT Government needs to listen to the expert legal and health advice and act now to raise the age of criminal responsibility to at least 14 years old.”
For media enquiries contact Kate Sieper: 0466 745 615
The Northern Territory Council of Social Service (NTCOSS) is the peak body for the not for profit sector across the Territory. It has over 130 members made up of non-government and community organisations, Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations and community councils.
The North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA) delivers high quality and culturally competent legal services to Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory. In addition to the core legal practice in criminal and civil law, it provides law and justice related services that aim to ensure that Aboriginal people have real access to justice.