Australians were universally horrified by the images of children being tortured at Don Dale Youth Detention Centre in 2016.
This shameful event, and the abuses since exposed in detention centres right across the country, including Victoria, highlight just how vulnerable children in prisons really are.
In spite of this, the Victorian Premier is currently forcing children as young as 10 into prison.
Raising the age that we lock children up was a key recommendation of the Royal Commission launched in response to Don Dale.1 But Premier Andrews seems determined to stick with a policy that’s not just cruel, but counterproductive.
Evidence shows that the earlier a child is sentenced, the more likely they are to reoffend.2 Imprisonment only traumatises young children, severs family ties and destroys opportunities to change course. This trauma is disproportionately inflicted on Indigenous children, deepening intergenerational wounds and worsening racism.
Every child deserves a chance to belong, to grow, and to learn. To achieve this, we need a move away from prisons and toward community-based programs that help children heal from trauma and support positive behaviour change.
Demand that Premier Daniel Andrews #RaiseTheAge that we send people to prison to at least 14 years old.
1 Sentencing Advisory Council, Sentencing Children and Young People in Victoria (Melbourne, 2012).
2 Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory, Findings and Recommendations, 46.