On Tuesday evening from 5:30-7pm Queensland Parliament will debate Greens MP Michael Berkman’s Bill to raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility to 14 years old and transition 10-13 year olds out of prisons and watch houses.
It will be the first time a bill to raise the age above the current 10 years old is debated in Australia.
Supporters will gather outside of Parliament for a short rally from 8am on Tuesday morning, calling on Queensland MPs to support the Bill and raise the age to at least 14.
What: Rally and press conference
Who: Michael Berkman, Greens MP for Maiwar; Maggie Munn, Amnesty International Indigenous Rights Campaigner (speaking at rally)
When: Rally from 8am, press conference from 8:45am Tuesday 16 August
Where: Speakers Corner (outside Queensland Parliament), George Street, Brisbane
“Our Bill brings Queensland law in line with the minimum age of criminal responsibility recommended by doctors, criminologists and the United Nations.
“Medical evidence shows 10-13 year olds have not yet developed the capacity to control impulses or foresee and understand consequences like adults.
“Early contact with the criminal legal system robs children of the opportunity to heal and grow, setting them up for a lifetime of criminalisation.
“All of the evidence proffered during the inquiry into this bill showed that transferring 10-13 year olds into an alternative, non-criminal model could actually reduce offending, while helping Queensland to meet our human rights obligations and reduce First Nations incarceration rates.
“Effective, evidence-based services exist in Queensland, but they are underfunded by a government that instead wastes millions building, expanding and running youth prisons.
“The best way to keep the community safe is to invest in prevention, early intervention and diversion, which is cheaper than the $1,600 per day it costs to keep one child in prison.
“Raising the age to just 12 years old, as the government has indicated it’ll consider, has absolutely no medical or evidentiary basis - it’s just politics. Fourteen is the absolute minimum age recommended by doctors, criminologists and the United Nations.”
Michael Berkman introduced the Greens’ “Raise the Age” Bill in October 2021. Alongside the bill he proposed an alternative model be implemented for children under 14, prioritising prevention, early intervention and diversion via tailored and culturally appropriate therapeutic responses.
More information on the Bill can be found here: https://www.michaelberkman.com.au/raisetheage
The Bill was considered by the Community Support and Services Committee and received more than 300 submissions in support including from criminologists, educators, First Nations leaders, human rights experts, legal organisations, doctors and youth workers.
Despite this, the committee recommended the bill not be passed, and made a heavily qualified recommendation that Queensland consider raising the age from 10 to 12. A minimum age of 12 has been criticised by stakeholders including the Queensland Human Rights Commission, the Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, Change the Record and Amnesty International as being inconsistent with medical evidence and international standards.