A 12-year Aboriginal boy from Central Australia has spoken at a United Nations event in Europe to urge Australia to raise the age of criminal responsibility so 10-year-olds are not sent to prison.
Arrernte/Garrwa boy Dujuan Hoosan is at the centre of a new documentary In My Blood It Runs that will screen at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
Dujuan an Aboriginal child featured in the acclaimed @inmyblooditruns doc will address UN Human Rights Council and urge Australia to stop sending 10 year olds to prison - please support the #RaiseTheAge campaignhttps://t.co/XIqEkZopiR pic.twitter.com/UGsBevI2Vt— BacktrackBoysFilm (@BacktrackDoc) September 9, 2019
The films documents his struggles, at age 10, to engage with Australia's mainstream education system while retaining his culture, coming to the attention of police like many Indigenous children and risking ending up in Darwin's Don Dale youth justice centre.
He called for Aboriginal-led education models while in Geneva with his grandmother and father.
"I was so worried about being taken away from my family and I was nearly locked up in jail," Dujuan said.
But I was lucky because of my family, they are strong, they love me and they know I am smart.
They found a way to keep me safe. I am alright now, but lots of kids aren't so lucky."
In all Australian states and territories, 10 years is the uniform age of criminal responsibility.
The Northern Territory child protection and detention royal commission in 2017 recommended that age be lifted to 12 years but the Territory Government is yet to do so despite accepting the final report recommendations.
The Human Rights Law Centre in Australia says the minimum should be 14 years.
Australian governments would have "a lot of explaining to do" to the UN in relation to the Convention of the Rights of the Child and sending those as young as 10 to prison or offshore asylum-seeker camps, said Shahleena Musk, an Indigenous Larrakia woman and lawyer at the Human Rights Law Centre.
"These harsh and out of date laws are forcing too many Aboriginal kids into the quicksand of the criminal legal system," she said.
"These harsh and out of date laws are forcing too many Aboriginal kids into the quicksand of the criminal legal system. Any government that is serious about tackling our nation's shocking over-imprisonment rates would make this one small change." - @musk_shah #RaiseTheAge— Susan Metcalfe (@susanamet) September 9, 2019
© AAP 2019