Koorie Youth Council (KYC) call on the Victorian Government to proceed with raising the age of criminal responsibility after the Councils of Attorney-General decision to postpone. Raising the age from 10 to 14 years is crucial to protect and support children and is a matter of urgency.
“It is incredibly disheartening that our leaders have yet again, not taken leadership on this urgent issue. We need to remember that they are children entering the youth justice system, and not adults. This is a time to stand with our children and communities and walk with them. It is time to take the necessary steps to truly support our children,” Indi Clarke, KYC Executive Officer.
Two years ago, KYC released Ngaga-dji: hear me, a report that sets out a vision for a Victoria that enables Aboriginal children to thrive and the path to making it happen. One of the key recommendations in Ngaga-dji is raising the age of criminal responsibility, alongside solutions that support the self-determination of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
“We must listen to our children so that all Aboriginal children in Victoria are nurtured and supported to thrive. We must listen to the experts when making key decisions that affect the lives of our children,” Indi Clarke.
The alternatives to imprisonment have been identified, along with solutions and research that supports the need to raise the age. Further delays will continue to have detrimental effects on children and young people in the youth justice system.
“We must ensure that the pain expressed through their stories are not felt by another generation of our community. It’s time for us to take action,” Indi Clarke.
The Victorian Government, opposition, social services sector and allies must walk together with the leadership of Aboriginal communities to create reform so that our youngest Aboriginal Victorians are supported to thrive. The children in Ngaga-dji shared their stories with us, because they trusted us to make change and take action.