A motion calling for the age of criminal responsibility to be raised from 10 to 14 has passed in the Tasmanian Legislative Council.
The minimum age of criminal responsibility currently sits at age 10 in all Australian jurisdictions except the Australian Capital Territory, which passed to raise the age to 14 last year.
Widespread support for raising the age, to prevent 10 year old children from being found criminally responsible, exists.
A Notice of Motion brought forward by Independent MLC Meg Webb in June, which has been supported by more than 50 prominent Tasmanians, called on the government to raise the age.
Supporters included school principals, social workers, legal experts and public advocates such as Grace Tame, Rodney Croome and Bob Brown.
Groups such Tasmania Legal Aid, Amnesty International, the National Aboriginal and Torres Straight Island Legal Services, Australia's Children Commissioner, and the Royal Australasian College of Physicians have long-called for the age to be raised to at least 14.
The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child recommended in 2019 that 14 years should be the minimum age of criminal responsibility.
The motion was debated in Tasmania on Tuesday night.
"The scientific evidence is overwhelming that, at the age of 10, a child's brain is still developing, particularly in terms of reasoning skills, impulsivity and consequential thinking," Ms Webb's motion read.
"The evidence also shows that many children who become involved in the criminal justice system come from disadvantaged backgrounds and have complex needs that are better addressed outside the criminal justice system through a developmentally appropriate, trauma-informed and culturally safe early intervention model that supports children in their families and communities.
"Furthermore, there is also strong evidence that the younger children are when they first encounter the youth justice system, the more likely they are to reoffend."
Amnesty Southern convenor Sylvia Merope said the time was right to raise the age of criminal responsibility in Tasmania.
"Many people are shocked to learn that across Australia, children as young as 10 can be charged, brought before a court, sentenced and locked up behind bars," said Ms Merope.
"It is unjust to hold children criminally responsible for their actions when they have yet to fully develop mental, intellectual and emotional maturity."
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