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Wednesday 24 January 2024

Reforms proposed for at risk youth

The Legal Services Commission is encouraging South Australians to have their say on raising the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12 years of age.

As the largest provider of legal assistance in South Australia, Legal Services is passionate and committed to ensuring justice is available and accessible for all South Australians.

Legal Services Commission CEO Gabrielle Canny said that young children need to be aware of their rights and responsibilities under the law.

“We support measures to reduce rates of reoffending, facilitate more appropriate treatment for children, and ultimately, deliver better outcomes for children and the community,” Ms Canny said.

“Legal Services commends the State Government for releasing its discussion paper setting out a proposal to raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12 years of age, and we’re encouraging our clients, the community at large, and the legal profession to have their say.”

Central to any reform is that transparency is maintained, and that young people do not lose access to legal advice and representation.

“It is pleasing to see the discussion paper is looking to explore alternate diversion models that divert these very young children away from the criminal justice system in the first instance.

“Evidence shows that early intervention strategies that address the underlying causes of a young child's criminal behaviour and keep them out of the criminal justice system, ultimately lead to improved child and community outcomes.

“We also welcome the Government consulting widely on further reforms to stop adults recruiting children to engage in criminal activities.

“As a trusted voice on legal policy and legislative change, we welcome the opportunity to look at law reform in this area.”

Legal Services has previously stated its position that the age of criminal responsibility should be increased from 10 to 14 years of age, in line with international evidence that children under the age of 14 lack the capacity to fully understand accountability for criminal offending.