Calls to raise age of criminal responsibility
A DETAILED investigation into raising the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 16 will assess whether the move would benefit teenagers and relieve pressure on Australian juvenile detention centres.
According to The Daily Telegraph, Federal Attorney-General Christian Porter has signed off on the 12-month investigation and is in talks with Attorneys-General from the country's states and territories.
Australian law already states prosecutors must successfully argue a child up to the age of 14 understood they were committing a crime rather than simply misbehaving.
Human rights groups pushing for the law change regularly refer to research which shows the brains of kids up to the age of 16 have not fully developed to understand reason.
The Youth Affairs Council of South Australia supports the change, saying the detention of young children "creates a cycle of disadvantage and forces children to become entrenched in the criminal justice system".
"Raising the age of criminal responsibility is not a free pass to break the law. It means 10 year olds won't be jailed. There will still be consequences for offending behaviours," the Youth Council tweeted.
"The UN has repeatedly rebuked Australia for maintaining such a low age. International standards require a minimum age of criminal responsibility that takes into consideration the emotional, mental, and intellectual maturity of children.
"#Youngpeople who spend time in detention are more likely to experience poorer health and life outcomes and disproportionately high levels of disadvantage over that of the general population."
Not everyone agrees with the idea including Today host Karl Stefanovic, who suggested raising the age would lead to teenagers being targeted by gangs.
"I tell you what, there'll be gangs out there, adult gangs targeting those kids," he said.
"Especially if they don't get charged with anything or there's no ramifications. They're going to be a huge target for criminal gangs."