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Amnesty International is pleased to be partnering with The Australian Dream to promote the broader conversation this provocative film sparks about Australia’s relationship with racism. Equality, diversity and freedom are at the heart of Amnesty’s work. We stand for a world where everyone can live without discrimination, where all people are treated fairly, and everyone can make choices about their own lives.

Written by Stan Grant, The Australian Dream, is the powerful story of a shy country kid to two-time Brownlow medallist and Australian of the Year: Adam Goodes. Adam is an inspiration to many and a man who stands up for what he truly believes in. This film asks a very important question: what does it mean to be Australian? And Amnesty is asking, is it Australian to be locking up kids as young as 10?

As part of our ongoing Indigenous rights work, we’ve been shining a light on the over-representation of Indigenous kids in Australia’s youth prisons.

When an Indigenous child is 27 times more likely to be in the youth justice system than a non-Indigenous child; questions around racism must be asked and answered.

Part of the problem is the age kids can be locked up – across Australia, children as young as 10 are being charged, brought before a court, sentenced and locked up behind bars while tested community solutions are ignored.

Kids in prison are less likely to access what they need to grow up resilient, such as education, mentoring and community support. Health experts, social workers, Indigenous leaders and legal experts all have overwhelming evidence of the harm prison does – the very last thing we want for kids.

There is a solution: instead of putting kids this young behind bars, governments can fund tested Indigenous-led solutions and community programs which have better outcomes for children and communities.

We’ve seen some positive developments by governments, including the Queensland Government recently acting to help ensure kids are not held in police watch houses designed for adults, and significant investments into Indigenous-led prevention and diversion programs across the country.  

Now we need to ensure 10 - 13 year old kids aren’t in prison in the first place. Together we can make this happen. Will you add your name to our petition and call on all governments across Australia to raise the age kids can be locked up to at least 14 years old?

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  Our Petition

 

To my State Premier or Chief Minister,

Right now in our state children as young as 10 are in prison. The figures from the 2021 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report into youth detention highlighted that 98% of children in detention on an average day were unsentenced. That children are being sent to prison without having been convicted of a crime is horrific.

There is an overwhelming amount of medical and psychological evidence that shows us children’s brains are still developing, especially the parts that regulate judgement, decision-making and impulse control. This means that kids cannot foresee the consequences of any action and cannot fully understand the criminal nature of their behaviour. Whether sentenced or unsentenced, children can not navigate the full weight of their actions and do not belong in prison.

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has called on countries to raise the age to at least 14 years old. China, Russia, Germany, Spain, Sierra Leone, Azerbaijan, Cambodia and Rwanda have taken this step and we must do the same for Australian kids.

It is not good enough that we are subjecting children in this country, largely First Nations children, to the terrible depths of prison. Raising the age to 12 is not sufficient, I call on you to immediately and urgently raise the age of criminal responsibility to at least 14 years old.

Yours sincerely,
[Your name]

State Premiers and Chief Ministers
Dominic Perrottet, Premier of New South Wales; Annastacia Palaszczuk, Premier of Queensland; Steven Marshall, Premier of South Australia; Peter Gutwein, Premier of Tasmania; Daniel Andrews, Premier of Victoria; Mark McGowan, Premier of Western Australia; Michael Gunner, Chief Minister of the Northern Territory; Andrew Barr, Chief Minister of the Australian Capital Territory
 

 

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