Youth crime can’t get any worse. NT Government: ”Hold my beer”

Aug 1, 2023

Tune in Queensland is the message from Hinchinbrook MP and Katter’s Australian Paty (KAP) Deputy Leader, Nick Dametto, as the Northern Territory (NT) braces for the age of criminal responsibility to rise from ten to twelve years on the 1st of August.

The Northern Territory Attorney-General claimed the decision to increase the age of criminal responsibility was based on evidence that a ‘therapeutic response’ is the best way to curb youth crime and antisocial behaviour. Under the new laws, if a child aged 11 years or younger engages in criminal activity, instead of being detained and dealt with through the courts, they’ll be diverted to a program that also involves the child’s family.

Mr Dametto said although this all seemed great in theory, increasing the age of criminal responsibility was more about reducing the number of offenders off the government books rather than solving the real problem.

“In Queensland, during the 2021-22 reporting year, 2,757[1] defendants aged between the age of ten and thirteen years of age had cases before the Childrens Court. Multiply that by an average of 5.4 offences per child[2] and that’s almost 15,000 crimes that would go unpunished,” he said.

“Whenever I listen to debate about raising the age of criminal responsibility, the focus is entirely on the perpetrator and the consequences their own criminal behaviour could have on them. What will it take for this Government to put the rights of victims before criminals?

“The Northern Territory has copped an absolute flogging over the past couple of years. Who could forget the chaos that unfolded when the Government failed to extend the NT alcohol bans.

“I hope to be wrong, but the future looks grim for the NT as the next generation of youth offenders prepare for another three-year hall pass when committing their crimes.

“Youth criminal advocates want us to believe the ‘evidence’ that the younger a child is when they first enter the justice system, the more likely they are to go on to reoffend.

“Has anyone considered that it’s simpler than that and the younger a child begins offending, the more chance they will continue to offend because they have simply made the conscious decision to do so.

“Queensland and the Northern Territory share a very similar demographic of kids, particularly up here in the north. You can guarantee that the Queensland Government will be using the NT as a trial and if this makes the NT Government look good on paper, this will almost certainly be repeated in our state.”

The remaining states and territories have taken varied approaches when it comes to the age of criminal responsibility however the ACT looks to be next in line with an age increase to twelve years expected in the near future followed by an increase to fourteen years in 2025.

Victoria will also take a two-stage approach, increasing the age to twelve in 2024 and fourteen in 2027. South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland currently have not announced any plans to increase the age of criminal responsibility.



[1] Childrens Court of Queensland Annual Report 2021 – 22, pg 21.


[2] Childrens Court of Queensland Annual Report 2021 – 22, pg 21.