Raise the Age

Children should be in schools and communities, not in jail. 

Right now in NSW, children as young as 10 are being arrested, charged and locked up, away from their families and communities. 

The evidence is clear. Criminalising children harms families and kids, and it is not making communities safer. Health, education, child development and legal experts are urging the NSW Government to change its failed approach. 

The Justice and Equity Centre is coordinating the NSW campaign to Raise the Age of criminal responsibility from 10 to at least 14. We have built a partner network of more than a hundred peak bodies, charities, community services, human rights and civil society organisations, and our work is driven by an influential lead group from across civil society.

Why Raise the Age?

What we do now simply does not work. 

By criminalising children as young as 10, we cause them harm, create mistrust of institutions, and make it more likely they will continue to get into trouble throughout their life. 

Arresting and jailing children at this crucial period in their development shapes their future. It causes lifelong trauma, and means children miss out on education, learning instead from the criminal justice system. 

Law, health and child development experts agree that children under 14 do not have the capability to be fully responsible for their actions. Raising the age to 14 is recommended by the United Nations, and 14 is the age of criminal responsibility in countries including Japan, Germany and Italy. 

We have a choice. We can continue to punish children and get the same bad results. Or we can stand up for kids, teach accountability and support them to get onto the right path, making our communities safer.

What are the alternatives to jailing children

Children need community-based, age-appropriate and therapeutic interventions, like mentoring or support to stay in school. We know that’s how to successfully address problematic behaviour and support children to develop a sense of responsibility.

Our partner network includes many specialist organisations who work with children, families, and communities. Their expertise and experience should be harnessed, funded and used to build a better way for kids and communities.

The Justice and Equity Centre and the Raise the Age NSW campaign are asking the NSW Government to work with us to build an alternative to police, jail and courts – one that works for kids, families and communities.

News and resources

Lead campaigner for Raise the Age, Emily Mayo, says criminalising children not only causes them harm, but hurts other children, families and the community. “Services, communities and workers are coming
More than a dozen organisations have formed a coalition to push the New South Wales government to raise the age of criminal responsibility to at least 14, arguing the status
A coalition has come together in NSW to call on the NSW Government to raise the age of criminal responsibility to at least 14. The group includes First Nations organisations,
PIAC was thrilled to host a special performance of Jailbaby and conversation with award-winning playwright Suzie Miller at Griffin Theatre Company recently. Jailbaby tells the story of two young Australian
PIAC has made a submission to the Australian Human Rights Commission’s national investigation into opportunities for reform of youth justice and related systems. In calling for submissions, the Commission noted ‘[w]hile Australia
Suzie Miller is a lawyer and playwright. Her play RBG: Of Many, One ran at the Sydney Theatre company between October and December 2023. Suzie’s other work includes the hugely

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