Story 6: #RaiseTheAge

2021: Australian Capital Territory

Raise the Age Artwork

Wotton & Kearney (W+K) assisted Change the Record (CTR) with pro bono research aimed at addressing a major obstacle to raising the age of criminal responsibility in Australia, with Attorneys General (AGs) concerned about the prospect of children aged 10 to 14 being left without any consequences or interventions if they commit crimes.

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Mapping preventative and diversionary services currently available in every jurisdiction, the research has demonstrated the alternatives that exist between incarceration and doing nothing at all, and how the cost of preventative services is a fraction of the cost of imprisoning a child (between $750,000 to $1m a year).

The ACT now has a roadmap with legislation to be introduced this year, with other jurisdictions actively exploring the possibility. It is hoped that once a large state signs on, others will follow. The AGs in each jurisdiction want to see the services in their own state or territory, so the ability for CTR to do this work with pro bono resources has been significant.

In addition to being used in state and territory advocacy, the research will be used by CTR in 3 specific pieces of funded work:

  1. A website resource for children’s advocates so they can quickly find out about each alternative service;
  2. An animation showing a map of Australia and where all the services are located;
  3. Advocacy and educational videos with stories of children who have been diverted from the criminal justice system and had their lives transformed through participation in some of the services.

The W+K team looks forward to seeing the CTR resources when they are finished and progress towards raising the age in every jurisdiction.

This story was submitted by Wotton & Kearney.