Criminal age lifted


Victoria will become the first Australian state to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 12 as long-awaited legislation arrives.

Premier Jacinta Allan and Youth Justice Minister Enver Erdogan announced the youth justice bill would be introduced to state parliament on Tuesday.

The standalone bill lifts the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12.

“Ten and 11-year-olds don’t belong in the criminal justice system … they belong in schools,“ Ms Allan told reporters.

Children as young as 10 can be charged, convicted and imprisoned in every Australian state and territory except the Northern Territory, which raised the age of criminal responsibly to 12 in August.

The ACT passed legislation to raise the age to 14 by 2025 with some exceptions.

In 2023, the Victorian government committed to lifting the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12 years, before raising it again to 14 by 2027 with some exceptions.

Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes said the government would seek for the change to take effect in 2025 despite previously flagging a start date of late-2024.

The bill would also lower the age of prosecution for recruiting children to commit crimes from 21 to 18, create a legislated scheme for warnings, cautions and diversions, codify the existing legal presumption of doli incapax and enable a two-year trial of electronic monitoring of youth offenders on bail.