Judged by representatives of the Victorian Parliament, the Parliament Prize Competition this year welcomed 670 submissions from students across Victoria who were invited to submit a 90 second video expressing views they feel are important to share to bring about change for the benefit of all.

It is with pleasure that we announce Fadzai Bako (Year 8) has been awarded Second Place in the Years 7-9 category of the Victorian Parliament Prize for her submission It is time to raise the age of criminal responsibility. Fadzai spoke passionately about the intersecting histories, vulnerabilities and complex needs that can lead to young people entering the youth justice system, and the impacts of youth incarceration on the future outcomes of these individuals.

Additionally, we are delighted to share that Fadzai also took out 3rd place in the Junior division of the ACS Public Speaking Championships on Monday, 15th August. We congratulate Fadzai on these truly remarkable achievements.

View Fadzai's entry below:

A transcript of Fadzai's speech can be read here:

The incarceration of young people remains a major issue in Victoria and indeed in Australia. The age of criminal responsibility in Victoria is 10. I strongly believe it is time we take a firm stand and raise the age of criminal responsibility. Australia has fallen behind in the developed world. Almost all European countries have the age of criminal responsibility set at 12 years and above. Young people who enter the youth justice system, especially those who serve some period in detention, frequently present with vulnerabilities and complex needs. These complex needs include histories of offending in the family, exposure to family violence, homelessness and poverty, mental health issues and disrupted education. It is important to note that our Aboriginal young people continue to be massively over-represented in our youth justice system. The United Nations and the Convention on the Rights of the Child state that detention should be considered only as a last resort option for young people. This is because research has found that detention is damaging and creates a situation that causes or is likely to cause criminal behaviour. The facts are alarming. It is time to raise the age of criminal responsibility. Children as young as 10 should never be sent to prison. Our legal system's treatment of our young people reflects poorly on us as a society. Given the long-term impact which the pandemic is likely to have on our young people, there is no better time to act than now.