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Victoria wants to raise the age of criminal responsibility – how can they do it?

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What is the age of criminal responsibility? The NT has raised it, and Victoria and the ACT want to do the same. Here's what you need to know.
What is the age of criminal responsibility

The Victorian Government will raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12.

Legislation is expected to be introduced to Victorian Parliament later this year, with the change expected to begin from late 2024.

They plan to further raise the age to 14 in 2027.

First, what is the age of criminal responsibility?

Any person below the age of criminal responsibility is unable to be charged or prosecuted by police for acts they commit.

The Government’s proposal would stop police from issuing charges or prosecuting children aged under 12.

They have proposed installing support services to help 10 and 11-year-olds understand the cause of troubling behaviours, instead of coming into contact with the criminal justice system.

Victorian Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes said there was a need to respond “effectively and compassionately” to children displaying harmful behaviour, while also ensuring the safety of Victorian communities.

What’s the age of criminal responsibility in the rest of Australia?

The Northern Territory is the only Australian jurisdiction that has passed laws to raise the age to 12.

The ACT Government has said it will also introduce legislation to Parliament to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 12. They will then raise it to 14 within two years of the initial increase.

Are there exceptions?

The Government has not yet detailed how they will treat serious offences committed by children who may, for example, pose a significant public safety risk.

However, they’ve said exceptions will be applied for some serious crimes committed by children under 14.

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