Raise the age

Raise the age

Black and white photo of a boy who is sitting with his back to the camera. He has dark hair, a white shire and dark shorts.

For 50 years the organised Aboriginal community through the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre has recognised the fundamental role the criminal law system has played in the oppression of our people.

The incarceration of our people at alarmingly disproportionate rates is evidence of that oppression.

We’ve been calling for the age of criminal responsibility to be raised for years and fully agree with the advice provided by the Commissioner for Children and Young People, Leanne McLean.

It’s unbelievable that today, we are still locking up children.

Children who have suffered trauma.

Children without security or things that a lot of people take for granted such as a home, regular food, family, and comfort.

Children whose families have experienced generations of racism, abuse, and neglect.

These children need care, they need country, culture, and community.

Teenagers are still growing and are heavily influenced by their environments as they develop, so even 14 is still too young.

We continue to provide solutions to this unacceptable situation, and we are very pleased to see that the Commissioner’s advice reflects what we’ve been saying.

Aboriginal jurisdiction for children and young people must be returned to our community as a genuine act of self-determination.

We have the expertise; we have the knowledge and we have had the successes.

Raise the age and close these horrific child torture chambers.

The model for how that should be done was explained by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission as far back as their 1997 Bringing Them Home Report and was promoted in our own 2014 report, Luwutina mana-mapali krakani waranta – Keeping our Children with Us.

We hope that the government will listen to our voices, and act on our advice. We can then have a real chance to work in a genuine partnership for the good of our community.

Read the Luwutina mana-mapali krakani waranta report (PDF)

Read the advice from the Commissioner: Memorandum of Advice – Age of Criminal Responsibility (external link)