The Youth Coalition of the ACT extends its congratulations to the ACT Government for raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility. On Wednesday, 1 November, the Legislative Assembly approved the Justice (Age of Criminal Responsibility) Legislation Amendment Bill 2023.
“The Youth Coalition welcomes these landmark changes to divert children and young people away from the youth justice system, to prevent further adverse outcomes and harm, and improve community safety.”Dr Justin Barker, CEO Youth Coalition of the ACT
In particular, we would like to thank Rachel Stephen-Smith MLA, Shane Rattenbury MLA, and Emma Davidson MLA as well as experts and advocates across the human rights, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, medical and legal sectors, for their dedication to bring about this significant change.The Youth Coalition also supports the ACT Government’s decision to initially raise the age to 12, to provide time to undertake the necessary service system enhancements prior to raising the age to 14.
“Early support to children, young people and families is critical. The staged approach to implementation provides the ACT with an opportunity to develop and test the necessary therapeutic service and system supports, to ensure we are adequately and appropriately meeting the needs of children, families and the community.”Dr Justin Barker, CEO Youth Coalition of the ACT
We have worked over the past four 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.In her speech to the Legislative Assembly yesterday, Minister Stephen-Smith acknowledged the contribution of the Youth Coalition and other community agencies towards progressing these reforms. We also acknowledge the vital role of advocate and lawyer Sophie Trevitt, to bring about these changes in the ACT and nationally. 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.