Every Victorian child has the right to learn from their mistakes safely and with support.

We urge the government to raise the age of criminal responsibility to at least 14 years old, in line with leading evidence. Legal, medical and youth work experts have been asking the Government for years to listen to the evidence and raise the age of criminal responsibility to at least 14.

A punitive approach leads to the overcriminalisation of children who are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, have disabilities, or who have experienced complex trauma.

These children need support and safety, not punishment. Evidence repeatedly shows prison causes more long-term harm to children and community. The Victorian Government can show leadership and be brave in ending this ineffective approach.

We urge the Government to raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility to at least 14 with no exceptions or new police powers, remove backsteps like reverse-onus bail provisions and electronic monitoring trials, and invest in early intervention supports like youth work to properly realise more effective alternatives to prison.

Quotes attributable to YACVic CEO Mary Nega:

“This reform is long anticipated, and the Government is so close. There is no need to disadvantage children who have experienced complex trauma, especially when evidence clearly lays out more successful alternatives.”

“Alongside so many youth organisations, YACVic urges Government to imagine a more just future, where they help all children learn from their mistakes instead of putting them in handcuffs.”

“The Yoorrook Justice Commission has recommended the Victorian Government raise the age of criminal responsibility to 14. The Government has an opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to Aboriginal justice by taking this clear opportunity to write a safer and more just future.”

Media contact: Media & Communications Coordinator Katia Pellicciotta – 0498 730 553 or KPellicciotta@YACVic.org.au.

About Youth Affairs Council Victoria (YACVic)

Youth Affairs Council Victoria (YACVic) is the peak body and leading policy advocate for young people aged 12-25 and the youth sector in Victoria. Established in 1960, YACVic advocates for the rights of young people in Victoria to ensure they are active, visible and valued in their communities.