Law Council of Australia


Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility

Speech delivered by Arthur Moses SC, President, Law Council of Australia at the Human Rights Commission Forum in Canberra, 10 December 2019. 

"It is an honour to be invited to speak at the United Nations Human Rights Day about an issue that has been very important to me this year as President of the Law Council of Australia – raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility. Because on this day – we should not forget the rights of children.

The urgency of this task was highlighted to me very early this year when I visited the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre at the opening of the Law Term in Darwin. That centre has come to symbolise the devastating impact that consistent policy failings continue to have on Australian children and Australia’s First Nations People.

Nearly two years after a Royal Commission recommended the centre be closed, it operates out of a former adult prison, which is not fit for use, until such time as a new centre is built. Incredulously, the new centre will be built near an adult prison as if somehow suggesting that imprisonment in an adult prison will be the rite of passage for children detained in the new centre. This is wrong. Imprisonment should not be a rite of passage for our Indigenous youth or indeed any Australian child."

Read full speech below.


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