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Briefing paper
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Children, Youth and Families Amendment (Raise the Age) Bill 2022: Bill Brief

Legislation Law reform Criminal law Youth justice Juvenile offenders First Nations children Victoria

Raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR) has been an ongoing debate in Australia. Apart from the Northern Territory, where the laws were amended in 2022 to raise the age to 12, the minimum age of criminal responsibility is 10 years of age in all jurisdictions. Advocates for increasing the age to 12 or 14 argue that young children are harmed more by their interactions with the criminal justice system than any deterrent or punishment effect.

This paper outlines selected aspects of proposed changes to the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005, in relation to raising the age of criminal responsibility. It provides a jurisdictional comparison on what other Australian jurisdictions have done in this space, and outlines some of the arguments for and against raising the MACR.

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