A new bill will go before the Queensland state parliament on Wednesday proposing to lift the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14 years of age.
The new legislation will bring the Australian state’s standard in line with the United Nations’ recommended age for prosecution.
Michael Berkman, Greens member of Parliament will introduce the private member’s bill, according to News.com.au.
“Queensland’s laws, which imprison children as young as 10, are out of line with international jurisdictions, they’re in breach of our human rights obligations and they’re not even keeping the community safe,” Berkman told NCA NewsWire.
“Medical evidence shows 10-13 year-olds don’t have the neurodevelopmental capacity to control impulses, or foresee and understand consequences, so criminalising them like adults doesn’t work.
“Early contact with the criminal legal system actually increases a child’s likelihood of reoffending. We need to invest in solutions that work, not more prison cells,” he said.
The move has the support of former Australian Federal Police (AFP) Commissioner Mick Palmer, who said the current age of responsibility unfairly targets children of lower socio-economic groups.
Palmer is against sending children to prison, saying, “In my experience, all that ever does is pretty well ensure they’re going to come back into prison again, and probably commit more severe crimes.”
But the Queensland Labor government, under state Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, does not support the bill.
Queensland Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman this week said there were “no plans to raise the age of criminal responsibility in Queensland.”
The position of Queensland Labor is at odds with their federal counterparts, with shadow spokeswoman for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney telling NCA NewsWire, “While we haven’t determined what the suitable age is, federal Labor believes that 10 is too young.”