A bill to raise the age of criminal responsibility in Canberra could be brought to the ACT Legislative Assembly before the end of the year.
The government has taken the first steps to change the age of criminal responsibility to 14. The current law allows children as young as 10 to be locked up.
The ACT is the first Australian jurisdiction to commit to raising the age and the territory's Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury said the legislation was a "very high priority".
"The ACT is committed to leading the nation in this area of a vital reform and I want to bring this legislation to the assembly in the latter half of this year," he said.
The territory government has commissioned a six-month independent review that will look at the impact of raising the age of criminal responsibility on young people and their families.
As well, it will examine its impact on support services and the justice system.
Criminal justice agencies, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander services, children protection agencies, youth justice services and legal agencies will be consulted as part of the review.
The independent review is being led by Australian Catholic University Emeritus Professor Morag McArthur in consortium with Aboriginal consultancy, Curjio and Australian National University research fellow Dr Aino Soumi.
Emeritus Professor McArthur is the founding director of the Institute of Child Protection Studies and was a chief investigator on research projects commissioned by the Royal Commission into Institutional Response into Child Sexual Abuse.
The review will cost $119,000.
"When we raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility to 14, we'll need to have the right systems in place to make sure those younger kids are looked after," Mr Rattenbury said.
"Careful planning is essential so that we can ensure that children and young people who engage in harmful behaviours, as well as impacted community members and service-provision agencies, are effectively supported when the age is raised.
"As part of this planning, the ACT government has committed to an independent review of the service system needs and implementation requirements."
The review team will deliver a report on its findings in July 2021.
Labor and the Greens committed to raising the age of criminal responsibility in August last year. It followed a motion delivered by the Greens.
A deal was officially inked between the parties in the parliamentary and governing agreement.
The ACT government has previously come under pressure from leaders in the territory's youth, health, legal and community changes to raise the age.
An open letter from the leaders warned very young children could be exposed to lifelong harm and early death if they are imprisoned.
The Council of Attorneys-General shied away from the commitment to raise the age nationally at its meeting last year.
In 2019, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child recommended 14 as the minimum age of criminal responsibility.
Last month Australia faced international pressure after 31 UN member states called on the country to raise the age.