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Doctors Call To Raise Age Of Criminal Responsibility To 14 In Australia

Charisa Bossinakis

Published 

Doctors Call To Raise Age Of Criminal Responsibility To 14 In Australia

Doctors have joined together to call to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14 in Australia.

According to raisetheage.org, around 600 children aged 10 to 13 years are locked up in the country each year, with thousands more hauled through the criminal legal system.

Roughly 70 per cent of those pre-teens and teenagers are First Nations individuals.

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) said that raising the age of criminal responsibility to 14 is crucial for closing the gap and ensuring a better future for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

RACP President Professor John Wilson issued a statement and said: "We must support Indigenous leadership and commit to working with them on issues affecting their communities. Accountability and action to Close the Gap must be delivered.

"On Close the Gap Day, we are calling for all Australian states and territories to address the incarceration of Indigenous children and raise the age of criminal responsibility to 14 years is in line with the best health evidence."

RACP Spokesperson, paediatrician, and adolescent health specialist Dr Mick Creati also said more needed to be 'done' ensuring young children aren't incarcerated before the formative age.

"More must be done to ensure children are not incarcerated for behaviours that are a direct consequence of their young age, their disability or their earlier trauma and provide these children with the care, support and treatment that they need and that preserves their dignity and human rights," he said.

In 2017, The Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children also urged for younger children to remain with families instead of being locked up.

Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

The 35-page report also recommended suggestions to better protect young indigenous children and how to improve the jurisdiction in handling these matters.

Last year, The First Peoples' Assembly, a body elected by Indigenous Victorians to negotiate a treaty, demanded the Victorian government to raise the age immediately.

Assembly co-chair Marcus Stewart told The Age: "This is a great shame on our society.

"Imagine what it means for any child to be in concrete walls and behind iron bars on Christmas Day and not around the people who love them. The evidence screams of the psychological damage detention does to kids."

The First People's Assembly hopes that continuing to spark debate around the issue of 'raise the age' will pressure the Andrews government to change the legislation before elections take place in November.

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Australia, Politics

Charisa Bossinakis
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