Annual Report to Children and Young People 2020-2021

The Commissioner is a strong advocate for raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility to 14 years, as recommended by the UN. However, the Commissioner notes some concerns about the lack of detail in the alternative model proposed by the Attorney-General. Particularly, the Commissioner is concerned that the model appears to inadvertently diminish the rights South Australian children currently have in relation to the criminal justice system.

In response to the model, the Commissioner recommends:

  1. The alternative model should be grounded in a rights-based approach that prioritises early intervention and diversion and operationalises international best practice and UNCRC obligations with respect to raising the age of criminal responsibility to age 14.
  2. The proposed amendments to the Young Offenders Act 1993 do not appear to go far enough to improve outcomes for children.
  3. The extension for police powers appears to be over-reach.
  4. The proposed ‘places of safety’ cannot be supported without further information and consultation.
  5. The proposed use of SACAT is inappropriate insofar as it will not be able to offer support and resources required to uphold children’s rights.