The ACT government will forge ahead with raising the age of criminal responsibility separate to a plan from the states to explore increasing the age from 10 to 12.
The territory is likely to introduce legislation to raise the age to 14, with senior ACT ministers throwing their support behind the four-year increase.
Legislation to raise the age is set to come before the ACT's cabinet in the coming months before its planned introduction next year.
At a meeting of attorneys-general on Friday the states agreed to support the development of a proposal to increase the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12.
ACT Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury said the territories were not part of this agreement and that he put the view to the meeting on Friday that 14 was the preferable age.
He said the territory would proceed with its plan over the coming months, regardless of what the states decide.
"I don't think we should lower our standards in order to achieve national consistency," Mr Rattenbury told The Canberra Times.
"In the ACT we should continue to strive to have the age of 14. I would rather have the right answer then be lined up consistently with all the other jurisdictions."
Labor and the Greens have committed to raising the age of criminal responsibility in their power-sharing agreement but an age is not specified. Mr Rattenbury said the ACT was working on the basis of raising the age to 14.
In the previous Assembly, Labor supported a motion put forward by Mr Rattenbury calling for the age to be raised to 14.
Families and Communities Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith on Monday said she supported raising the age to 14.
"My personal view is that the minimum age of criminal responsibility should be raised to 14 and that's what we've been consulting the community about," she said.
"We've been very clear in our consultations with the community that that is what the evidence suggests that children under the age of 14 really don't have the capacity to understand the impacts of their behaviours and to form full criminal intent."
But the ACT's police have a different view. In a submission to a recent consultation, ACT Policing called for the age to be raised to 12, not 14, saying there was a cohort of 13- to 14-year-olds who are engaged in "serious and violent offending".
Police expressed concern this group would continue the behaviour without fear of repercussion in the justice system if the age was raised.
The ACT Council of Social Services chief executive Emma Campbell said the organisation was disappointed in the meeting of attorneys-general decision.
"We are bitterly disappointed that the other states and territories are not following the ACT's lead on the matter," Dr Campbell said.
"The decision by the [meetings of attorneys-general] is an empty commitment that does nothing to give children the help they need to lead healthy and happy lives in their homes, schools and communities.
"Legal and medical experts including the Law Council and the Australian Medical Association have said that it is necessary to raise the age of criminal responsibility to at least 14 years of age."
Advocacy organisation Save the Children labelled the decision by the attorneys-general as a "nothing announcement".
The organisation said there would still be more than 450 12- and 13-year-olds behind bars in Australia if the age was only raised to 12.
Save the Children's executive director of Australian Services Matt Gardiner said the organisation welcomed the ACT government's plan to raise the age to 14.
"It is an adult failing to lock up children. 12 and 13 year olds don't belong in prison in the ACT or anywhere," he said.
"The ACT was the first jurisdiction to develop a Humans Rights Act and has a proud history of acting on human rights issues.
"The ACT can lead again by raising the age of criminal responsibility to 14 years, it would be a move backed by evidence and would meet international standards."
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