Tasmania Has Committed To Raising The Detention Age To 14 In A Big Step For Youth Law Reform

tasmania minimum age detention youth justice reform

The minimum age of detention in Tasmania is being raised from 10 to 14 as the Tasmanian Government works to reform the state’s Youth Justice System.

Tassie’s Minister for Education, Children and Youth Roger Jaensch announced the landmark changes to the justice system in a statement on Wednesday afternoon.

He said raising the minimum age of detention is a key element in the state’s plan to “build a nation-leading, best practice approach to young people in conflict with the law”.

“We know that detention does not support rehabilitation or reduce the likelihood of re-offending for younger children,” the statement read.

“Early exposure to a detention environment can also further traumatise young people, expose them to problem behaviours of older detainees and increase criminal networks.

“This change will help ensure that the detention of young people in Tasmania is truly a last resort.”

The comprehensive reforms of Tasmania’s youth justice system extend further than raising the age.

The government plans to take a greater focus on prevention and early intervention. It’ll also look at more options to keep young Tassies away from the court system. It also plans to introduce more community-based sentencing options as well as trauma-informed, therapeutic and restorative mediation options for high-risk offenders like new custodial facilities.

These reforms to the youth justice system mean amendments need to be made to the Youth Justice Act (1997). It’s anticipated these changes will be made toward the end of 2024.

Raising the age of detention is a separate issue from the age of criminal responsibility (the proven ability to tell between right and wrong) which is set at 10-years-old right across Australia. Pressure has been mounting to also raise the age of criminal responsibility to 14 and it will continue to be considered through the national meeting of Attorneys-General.

Tassie’s Attorney-General Elise Archer has said her state would rather have a “nationally consistent position” on the minimum age of criminal responsibility.

All eyes are on you, mainlanders.