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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 01 Hansard (Wednesday, 2 December 2020) . . Page.. 80 ..

MS BERRY: He is very close now, Madam Speaker; it is very tempting. I will leave it there; I will not be tempted.

MR DAVIS: I thank the minister for her commitment. Obviously there will be a need to rationalise school services as populations change. What advice would the minister give to the Tharwa school community and to other smaller school communities to boost enrolments and ensure that they retain their position as an important part of our local communities?

MS BERRY: More children obviously mean more capacity in schools, but I think I will leave what happens after COVID to the data that comes out next year showing what families were up to during isolation. My advice to communities around those schools is to stay in touch with their school communities and continue to engage with the schoolteachers and other members of their school communities to make sure that those schools continue to thrive and provide the best possible preschool education and public education for school students.

Youth justice—age of criminal responsibility

MR COE: My question is to the Minister for Families and Community Services. Minister, ACT Labor and the Greens have formally committed to raising the age of criminal responsibility in the ACT. Which specific alternatives to detention is your government recommending as part of the national conversation that is taking place on this matter?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Mr Coe for the question. We are committed to raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility. That is something that the Legislative Assembly debated late in the last term of the Assembly. Indeed, we all agreed that raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility was the right thing to do.

What we have recognised is that there is some more work to do before we can bring legislation in relation to that into the Assembly. A couple of projects were funded with the proceeds of the confiscated assets trust by the former Attorney-General, Mr Ramsay, to support this work: work on scoping what will be required to support young people once the minimum age of criminal responsibility is increased and work on some funding for a specific functional family therapy youth justice program, to pilot that program, having seen how successful functional family therapy is in the child welfare and child protection space. This is an evidence-based program to support young people and their families who are coming into contact with the justice system. There will be a trial of that program in the ACT to see if that can fill some of the spaces that will be identified as we go through the process of understanding exactly what is needed to raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility.

Of course, we also recognise that it is not just about the young people themselves and the diversions and support that they will require. We also recognise, and I have had this conversation with the Attorney-General, that there will be genuine victims of antisocial and criminal behaviour by young people and that there will be a range of

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