The Black Lives Matter movement in Australia has renewed calls to end black deaths in custody and address racial inequality. One step our state can take to address these issues is to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 years old to 14 – and the Greens currently have a Bill to do that before the Parliament. In Australia, children as young as 10 are being locked up in prisons and labelled criminals. First Nations children – who make up less than 5% of the population – make up more than 60% of the juvenile prison population.
Past reports show that police are more likely to arrest First Nations children and to lay formal charges against them rather than issuing a warning for minor offences. First Nations children are also more likely to be locked up in prison as they wait for their day in court instead of being released on bail.
The current Bill before the Parliament was introduced by Mark Parnell, who has since retired. The Greens’ incoming new MLC Robert Simms will continue Mark’s work in this area.
Robert Simms will be attending the “Stop Black Deaths in Custody – Raise the Age from 10-14” rally today from 12:00pm at Tarndanyangga (Victoria Square).
Quotes attributable to Tammy Franks MLC:
“Children do best when they are supported, nurtured, and loved – not criminalised.
“Our Attorney-General has stated that she is open to reform, but prefers a national response. But the Federal Government are steadfastly refusing to step up, so we must do it ourselves.
“We know that imprisoning primary school-aged kids causes immense harm, and does nothing to keep the community safe in the long run. Every day that these kids spend in the Youth Training Centre is a day too long, especially when there are much better alternatives.
“The Marshall Government haven’t been listening to the experts, but maybe they’ll finally listen to people’s voices out on the streets today. The message is loud and clear: we must end black deaths in custody. We must address racial inequality. And one vital step we can take towards these goals includes getting young children out of our prisons.