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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2000 Week 1 Hansard (16 February) . . Page.. 141 ..

Wednesday, 16 February 2000


The Assembly met at 10.30 am.

(Quorum formed)

MR SPEAKER (Mr Cornwell) took the chair and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.


MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (10.33): Mr Speaker, I present the Children and Young People Bill 2000, together with its explanatory memorandum.

Title read by Clerk.


That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

Mr Speaker, I will have more to say about the general topic addressed by this Bill when the Assembly debates its substance and similar amendments to the Children's Services Act. The ACT is in the process of overhauling the legislation relating to children and young people from both a welfare and a criminal justice perspective. In those circumstances, I believe it is necessary to amend two Acts - the Children's Services Act and the Children and Young People Act.

The Children's Services Act will be repealed when the Children and Young People Act comes into effect, but in the mean time eight- and nine-year-old children are being exposed to the risk of being sucked into the criminal justice system. It is well documented that once a child is involved in the criminal justice system their chances of becoming a lifelong client of the police, courts and gaol is very much higher.

Briefly, the Bill that I introduce this morning seeks to avoid that result by increasing the age of criminal responsibility in the ACT from eight years to 10 years. Only the ACT and Tasmania have not followed the recommendations of the Model Criminal Code Committee to increase the age. Tasmania remains stuck at seven and the ACT at eight.

In Australia's first report under article 44 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1995, it was stated that a model criminal code would be developed for application in all jurisdictions. Under the model code, the age of criminal responsibility was to be standardised at 10 years or more. The new age in relation to

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