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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 08 Hansard (Thursday, 5 August 2021) . . Page.. 2362 ..

It is an honour to bring this legislation forward to the Assembly. I have spent my life and my career in this Assembly fighting on behalf of working Canberrans and their families. I am very proud today to commend this bill to the Assembly.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Leave granted to dispense with the detail stage.

Bill agreed to.

Justice—age of criminal responsibility

Ministerial statement

Debate resumed from 24 June 2021, on motion by Mr Rattenbury:

That the Assembly take note of the paper.

MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella—Manager of Government Business, Minister for Corrections, Minister for Industrial Relations and Workplace Safety, Minister for Planning and Land Management and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (11.24): I am pleased to speak today in support of the Attorney-General’s statement on raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility and the government’s overall commitment to improving the safety and wellbeing of the ACT community.

I acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land we are meeting on, the Ngunnawal people. I pay my respects to their elders, past, present and emerging, and acknowledge their continuing culture and the contribution they make to life in this city and the region.

I also acknowledge other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who may be present or listening to the Assembly broadcast today. This is a particularly important acknowledgement given the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in interacting with the ACT justice system.

Raising the age of criminal responsibility can help us reduce the contact that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people have with the justice system. In my role as minister for police, emergency services and corrections, the safety of the community is my priority. However, diverting children and young people away from the criminal justice system, especially from detention, by addressing the causes of harmful behaviours through targeted interventions and supporting the at-risk community is also a priority. Raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility is a step in the right direction.

Working towards this reform provides an opportunity to confront the challenges facing children and young people at risk, reducing their chances of engaging in harmful behaviours and the impacts of harmful behaviours on the wider community. It also provides an opportunity to strengthen preventative programs to keep children and young people from engaging with the criminal justice system, which we know can result in lifelong patterns of reoffending.

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