Youth Coalition congratulates the ACT Government on raising the age of criminal responsibility

The Youth Coalition of the ACT extends its congratulations to the ACT Government for their decision to increase the minimum age of criminal responsibility in the territory from 10 to 14 years. Shane Rattenbury MLA, will be tabling the legislation today, Tuesday 9 May 2023.

Alongside experts and advocates across the human rights, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, medical and legal sectors, the Youth Coalition has actively supported raising the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14 years. We support the ACT Government’s commitment to initially legislate to raise the age to 12, to provide time to undertake the necessary service system enhancements prior to raising the age to 14.

We have worked over the past three years, alongside the government and key community members to piece together a range of evidence-based reforms aimed at enhancing community safety and achieving better outcomes for young people. We look forward to continuing this work to implement and monitor the development of new services to improve outcomes for the community. 

These reforms are not just about raising the age; they are about meeting the needs of children, young people and families, to improve their wellbeing, reduce the rates of crime and increase community safety.

The ACT community should be proud that we are leading the way on these reforms.

“The introduction of this bill to raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility signals a change in our approach to youth justice. It moves us towards an evidence-based approach that addresses the causes, and needs of young people and their families, to create effective solutions and a safer and more inclusive Canberra for everyone.”    
Dr Justin Barker, CEO Youth Coalition of the ACT

We ask the ACT Government to allocate funding to progress and evaluate a service system that includes: 

1. Multi-Disciplinary Theraputic Panel: A legislated panel that would assess and coordinate integrated service response and supports for children, young people and families with complex needs and provide oversight to service system enhancements.
2. ‘Frontline’ crisis support: Immediate and on-call crisis support to support ACT Policing when they come into contact with young people under the age of 18, with capacity for accommodation, assessments and follow-up referral.
3. Intensive therapeutic family-based programs:Youth-centred, family based therapeutic programs such as Functional Family Therapy (FFT) and Multi-Systemic Therapy (MST) are evidence-based interventions, that work with the family system to increase adaptive behaviours and reduce maladaptive behaviours. FFT was delivered and evaluated as a pilot in the ACT. The evaluation found that it addressed a service gap within the ACT sector and achieved improved outcomes for young people and families that participated. Ideally, both FFT and MST would be delivered within the ACT, as these programs work effectively alongside each other to respond to the varying needs of families.
4. Intensive therapeutic case management: While family-based programs can support a wide range of clients, other services are also required to work effectively with young people at-risk of involvement with the justice system. A current gap is therapeutic intensive case management, which could be delivered alongside or subsequent to involvement in programs such as FFT or MST. It also provides an alternative referral pathway for young people who are not eligible to participate in family-based programs.

Read more in our budget submission

The Youth Coalition of the ACT
The Youth Coalition of the ACT

T | (02) 6247 3540
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The Youth Coalition of the ACT
46 Clianthus St O’Connor ACT 2602