Youth crime reform on the cards: attorney

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Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus says he is 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 release a council of attorneys-general report - finalised in 2020 but never published - which supported lifting the criminal age of responsibility nationwide to 14 from 10 years old.

Mr Dreyfus in response said the decision not to release the report was made under the Morrison government, but he had raised its potential release as an issue to be discussed at the next meeting of attorney-generals in December. 

"I am working closely with state and territory counterparts through the standing Council of Attorneys Generals to develop proposals about the minimum age of criminal responsibility," he told parliament on Wednesday. 

Mr Dreyfus said at the last meeting held on August 12 a working group was given the nod to continue to work on a proposed lift to the age of minimum responsibility. 

He said particular attention would be paid to the over-representation of First Nations children in the criminal justice system.

The report was authorised by the Western Australian government, and wasn't a commonwealth paper, Mr Dreyfus said.

"There are steps that have to be taken in order for it to be released," he said.

A Four Corners investigation into Australia's youth detention system, revealed the report backed raising the age and that its release had been denied.

A group of organisations including Amnesty International, doctors groups and the Law Council of Australia has been campaigning for the criminal age of responsibility to be increased to 14 in all states and territories.

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