Why consider raising the age of criminal responsibility?

    This proposal is all about keeping the community safer. 

    The evidence shows us that people who have contact with the criminal justice system at a young age are more likely to reoffend later in life, and often with more serious types of offending.

    By diverting very young children away from the criminal justice system and supporting them through alternative pathways, we’re giving them the best chance to get back on the right track and avoid future criminal behaviour.

    This proposal will improve community safety by reducing the likelihood of this group of people offending in the future.

    What is the alternative diversion model?

    The basic structure of the proposed alternative model is:

    • a first response to the harmful behaviour (including early intervention through community-based programs, a referral or assessment process) leading to 
    • a secondary response that can be scaled in intensity and focused on the needs of the child and how to prevent the harmful behaviour in the future. 

    The secondary response would include: 

    • Level 1 – a community action plan
    • Level 2 – a mediated action plan
    • Level 3 – a mandatory action plan 

    Each of these would increase in intensity and formality. 

    Refer to the discussion paper for further information about the proposed model. 

    What are other jurisdictions doing?

    The ACT, NT and Victoria have all committed to raising the MACR to 12 initially, with a further increase to 14.

    The NT were the first jurisdiction in the country to formalise the change in August of this year and has committed to reviewing the MACR in 2 years with a view to raising the MACR further to 14 years of age.

    The ACT has committed to raising the MACR to 12 years of age, and again to 14 years of age after a further 2 years. The legislation raising the MACR and setting out the alternative model has been introduced to the ACT Legislative Assembly, and is currently being considered by a Parliamentary Committee.

    Victoria has committed to raising the MACR to 12 years of age by the end of 2024, and to 14 years of age by 2027.