Raising the Age Petition Handover

Thursday 10 November, 2022

The Tasmanian Aboriginal Legal Service, with Amnesty International, invites the Tasmanian media to the Raise The Age Rally at Parliament House at 1pm, Thursday November 10.

TALS Acting-State Manager Hannah Phillips said the Australian and all state governments have committed to the “Closing the Gap” strategy.

“A critical factor to closing the gaps for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people is raising the age,” Ms Phillips said.

“This legislative change is also supported by human rights advocates, those working in youth services, doctors and mental health professionals.

“From my experience, young people between 10-14 are committing offences because of a need - food, clothing, shelter - because they have behavioural challenges or because they are not engaged in school or other learning.

“This is a reflection on the system, not the young person.

“Detention does not work as a behavioural change method, it creates future inmates of Risdon Prison.”

WHAT: Raise the Age Rally

WHERE: Parliament House Steps, Hobart

WHEN: 1pm, Thursday November 10

Special Note: Rally Members will place toys on the pathway and steps leading to Parliament House, symbolising what a child’s experience should be (the toys will then be donated to an appropriate children’s charity).

Ms Phillips said it has now been one year since the Legislative Council passed a motion to Raise the Age of Criminal Responsibility to 14.

“Since this motion passed, we have heard many more disturbing details about the treatment of children in Tasmania’s justice system with the inquiry into the Ashley Youth Detention Centre. While we still have to wait until May for the report from this inquiry, we know that Tasmania can do better than this.”

TALS Community Engagement and Program Manager Lee-Anne Carter said it has been said young people will only be imprisoned as a last resort.

“Yet Aboriginal people especially young people continue to be overrepresented and incarcerated,” Ms Carter said.

“The promise to invest in early intervention and prevention programs available to divert young people away from the youth system in Tasmania must be done in consultation with Aboriginal communities.

“These programs must be designed, created, and implemented in a cultural safe way and through a health response lens.

“There is little point to these programs if they are not properly designed, resourced, and provide opportunities to address underlying and systemic issues that lead to a young person’s contact with the youth justice system in the first instance.”

Amnesty International Australia and Change The Record have recently delivered our Raise the Age petition with over 200,000 signatures to Indigenous Affairs Minister Linda Burney and Attorney General Mark Dreyfus in Canberra. At the meeting, the Ministers expressed the Federal Government's strong commitment to taking national leadership on this crucial issue.

Ms Phillips said the Tasmanian Government has recently committed to developing a proposal to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12.

“But this does not go far enough. TALS supports Raising the Age of criminal responsibility to 14 and this must occur as a priority and as an introductory part of the reforms. If this does not occur, it will lead to lifelong damage as children get stuck in the quicksand of the legal system.

“TALS is also supportive of a minimal age of detention being 16.

Media Contact: A.Mark Thomas, M&M Communications, 0422 006 732

If this does not occur, it will lead to lifelong damage as children get stuck in the quicksand of the legal system

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