Youth crime reform on the cards: attorney

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Attorney General Mark Dreyfus said he was working with his state and territory counterparts to consider raising the age of criminal responsibility.

Independent MP Kate Chaney asked Mr Dreyfus in Parliament if the government would publish a report from the Board of Attorneys General – finalized in 2020 but never published – which supported lifting the age of criminal responsibility nationwide at 14 years versus 10 years.

In response, Mr Dreyfus said the decision not to publish the report had been made under the Morrison government, but he had raised its potential publication as a matter for discussion at the next meeting of attorneys general in December.

“I am working closely with my state and territory counterparts through the Permanent Board of Attorneys General to develop proposals on the minimum age of criminal responsibility,” he told parliament on Wednesday.

Mr Dreyfus said at the last meeting held on August 12 that a working group had been given the green light to continue working on a proposal to raise the age of minimum responsibility.

He said special attention would be paid to the overrepresentation of First Nations children in the criminal justice system.

The report was authorized by the Western Australian government and was not a Commonwealth newspaper, Mr Dreyfus said.

“There are steps to go through for him to be released,” he said.

A Four Corners investigation into Australia’s youth detention system found the report supported raising the age and was denied publication.

A group of organisations, including Amnesty International, medical groups and the Law Council of Australia, have campaigned for the age of criminal responsibility to be raised to 14 in all states and territories.

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