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Change the Record (auspiced by ACOSS)

Reaching New Audiences – Raise the Age

Reaching New Audiences – Raise the Age

In a given year across Australia, close to 600 children aged 10 to 13 years are locked up and thousands more are hauled through the criminal legal system.

australia > ALL
27/04/2021 > 31/08/2021


  • Social inclusion and justice (human rights)
  • Indigenous communities


  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Peoples
  • Young people (6-25)


In a given year across Australia, close to 600 children aged 10 to 13 years are locked up and thousands more are hauled through the criminal legal system.

Australia’s low age of minimum criminal responsibility is well out of step with international standards. Every state and territory in Australia currently imprisons children as young as 10 years old. The global median age of criminal responsibilty is 14 years old. Australia’s practice of imprisonning children has been the focus of international condemnation.

Children aged 10 to 13 years old are going through significant growth and development, and treating them like criminals through early contact with the criminal justice system can lead to irreparable harm and long term damage. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are disproportionately impacted by these laws and pushed into prison cells at even higher rates, accounting for 65 per cent of younger children in prisons.

It’s time for the federal, state and territory governments to do what’s right and change the laws to raise the age of criminal responsibility, so children aged 10 to 13 years are not sent to prison in Australia.

Change the Record, the Human Rights Law Centre and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service have spent the last six months commissioning a body of research on how to communicate about young people, the criminal justice system and raising the age of criminal responsibility. The research consisted of a review of existing national and international messaging work, discourse analysis of how key stakeholders are speaking about the issues (politicans, police, media etc.) and focus groups in regional and urban areas in QLD, WA and Victoria. This research has provided us with a useful basis upon which to build key messages and communications frames with our target audiences.

Proposed Strategy 1: We have the opportunity to produce a series of online, TV and radio advertisements that feature the voices and stories of children and their parents calling for the age to be raised with the In My Blood It Runs film crew. These advertisements will offer strength-based stories – revealing the wisdom and strength of young people who have faced the justice system.

Proposed Strategy 2: Our final pillar of work is in reaching and mobilising our supporters to take powerful and effective action. This requires a combination of both online infrastructure to support their recruitment and action-taking, and offline organisers to mobilise community groups, individuals and stakeholders.


Proposed Strategy 1: The advertisements will address lingering confusion and uncertainty as to what actual alternatives there are to the current punitive systems. Some politicians are seeking more information, asking: What happens to a child under 14 years that commits an offence? What are the alternatives? The stories will:

● Reframe the conversation to focus on upstream solutions such as education
● Understand the bigger picture of where and why youth disengagement occurs
● Focus on love and care of families
● Platform and support community/grassroots orgs already offering alternative services
● Challenge the idea that locking up kids is a viable solution by allowing public to see, hear and feel what is transformative for those with lived experience

At the end of each video there will be a Campaign Tagline/Call to Action, delivered by a celebrity ambassador of #RTA.

We are seeking funding to produce and disseminate these powerful stories of lived experience.

Proposed Strategy 2: Currently, our primary action taking device is an online petition where over 180,000 have pledged their support to raise the age. With funding, we can convert these action-takers into advocates who could use online tools to email and call their MPs, log responses with us so we can track how different MPs are responding to calls to raise the age and contact individiuals in particular postcodes for electorate-based actions. These are low cost, but high reward, additions to our online capacity which would require a low level of ongoing funding.

Right now there is a small but vocal ‘law-and-order’ constituency that is opposed to raising the age, but our research tells us that when most people become aware that ten year olds can be imprisoned in Australia, they are shocked and dismayed.

We are seeking funding to mobilise a bigger and more diverse constituency of supporters who want to see the law changed to keep young children out of the criminal justice system.

Profile of Change the Record (auspiced by ACOSS)

Change the Record (auspiced by ACOSS)

Change the Record is Australia’s only national Aboriginal led justice coalition of legal, health and family violence prevention experts. Our mission is to end the incarceration of, and family violence against, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
We have the solutions. We know how to build stronger and safer communities - all we need is the political will and resourcing to make these solutions a reality.

437 Aboriginal people have died in police or prison cells, or after interactions with police. This is for two reasons - discriminatory policies and discriminatory policing. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are 34 times more likely to be hospitalised as a result of family violence, and children are being taken away from their families at heartbreaking rates.

But it doesn't have to be this way. We can change the record.


TOTAL BUDGET: $100,000
Funding sourceAmount
ACF Impact Fund (confirmed)$10,000
Anonymous donor (matched funding)$10,000
Funding gap (unconfirmed)$40,000
Matched funding (if funding is secured by end of financial year)$40,000
Expense itemAmount
Overall budget (building online capacity and creating resources)$100,000

Support Reaching New Audiences – Raise the Age

Got a question about this project or ready to contribute? Contact our Philanthropy & Impact Team.


As a broker of change, we invite social change initiatives to apply for funding. Eligible proposals are shared with our giving community via our Granting Opportunities directory.