Kids do not belong in prison. But right now, children as young as 10 years old can be charged, sentenced and locked up as criminals under Queensland law.
This “tough on crime” approach has failed.
Children’s brains - particularly the parts that regulate impulse control and understand consequences - are still developing. So criminalising children like adults does not work. Early contact with police and prisons only teaches kids how to be “better criminals”, and sets them up to fail.
To keep our community safe, we need a new approach that puts prevention and care, not punishment, first.
I oppose the major parties’ politically-motivated, knee-jerk attempts to scapegoat and punish young people, instead of addressing the root causes of offending. Rather than spending on GPS trackers and more youth prisons, the Government should:
Build more public homes
Increase funding for community services like bail & order support, early intervention programs, Indigenous-led programs and alcohol & other drug support services
Get kids out of adult police watch houses
Fund a free school breakfasts & lunches program in every Qld school, to improve attendance and concentration
Implement the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Indigenous Deaths in Custody
Raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 years old to at least 14
Raising the Age of Criminal Responsibility
Locking up kids as young as 10 contravenes our human rights obligations, and is out of line with international jurisdictions.
In July 2020, despite massive international pressure and support from criminologists, human rights groups, social sector workers, doctors and the broader community, Australia’s Council of Attorney-Generals indefinitely postponed the decision to raise the age. The Queensland Government has previously said they’d leave it to COAG, but now it’s dropped off their agenda, it’s time for us to take action. The ACT Government has committed to raise the age, and Queensland should be next.
Raising the age of responsibility is one crucial part of a better approach to justice.