Legislation to raise the age of criminal responsibility will likely be introduced to the ACT's parliament early next year, as the territory government prepares to undertake significant services reform to support the change.
Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury said the ACT government aspired to put the legislation forward as quickly as possible but conceded there was more work needed.
A government-commissioned review of the ACT's service system released on Monday found sweeping reforms would be needed when the age is raised from 10 to 14.
It found several gaps in the ACT systems, including a lack of co-ordination and integration across the service system and demand outstripping the availability of services.
ACT Family and Community Services Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said while services would be reformed the government would not wait for the system to become perfect before the minimum age was raised.
"We don't want to let perfect be the enemy of good here, we need to raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility and we need to get on with that work," Ms Stephen-Smith said.
The report recommended children under 14 who engaged in criminal behaviour should be met with a therapeutic response.
Cheryl Axleby, who co-chairs Change the Record, an Aboriginal-led national justice coalition, welcomed the report, as Indigenous children are imprisoned at far higher rates than non-Indigenous children.
"Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids bear the brunt of bad policies and bad policing. Our kids suffer when governments build new prisons instead of investing in adequate housing, supports in schools and family services," she said.
"This ACT report shows how governments can do things differently, by supporting our kids to thrive instead of locking them away."
The report recommended Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people be strongly represented in building a self-determined response.
"That service system being driven by Aboriginal community-controlled organisations and self-determination is absolutely critical," Ms Stephen-Smith said.
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ACT public advocate and children and young people commissioner Jodie Griffiths-Cook said the roadmap outlined in the report would help to realise better outcomes for children and young people not getting the necessary support.
"Raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility is not just about keeping young children out of prison, it's also about ensuring that no child is left behind at school, or struggling at home, or homeless," she said.
"This roadmap will benefit everyone in Canberra by helping to generate a safer community in which children and their families can thrive."
ACT Justice Health Minister Emma Davidson said children would be included as part of discussions on service reform.
"I think it's very important that whenever we're talking about working on service improvements for young people, that the voices of young people are part of that conversation," Ms Davidson said.
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