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On 2 July 2020, I attended National Council of Women of Victoria monthly meeting. Tiffany Overall,  Youth law Convenor of Smart Justice for Young People (SJFYP) was the guest speaker. She described  SJFYP as “a coalition of organisations working to give young people a chance to succeed in life and  stop reoffending”. https://www.fclc.org.au/smart_justice_for_young_people.

As Tiffany outlined the work of SJFYP, I was struck by the unity of purpose between SJFYP and Ahuzat  Yeladim, WIZO’s school for troubled youth in Haifa. Both organisations support young people affected  by trauma and abuse. Ahuzat Yeladim does this by nurturing youth sent by Israeli juvenile justice  bodies to complete their education and SJFYP, by advising government on alternatives to custodial  sentences.

The United Nations defines youth as aged 15-24. Tiffany stated that over 60% of Australian youth in  the justice system, i.e. juvenile courts, adult prison or youth training centres come from disadvantaged  communities specifically Aboriginal, Maori, East African and are in danger of becoming a permanent  underclass in Australian society. She said that the earlier a child encounters the justice system the  longer he or she will take part in crime.

The United Nations has called for the age of criminal responsibility to be raised to 14 years. Globally,  the age of criminal responsibility varies. In Australia, Germany and Ireland a child of 10 can be arrested  and imprisoned. In Israel, Canada, United Kingdom the age of criminal responsivity is 12, 14 in Italy,  15 in Finland and 18 in France.

Currently the Australian Council of Attorneys-General is reviewing the age of criminal responsibility.

SJFYP has launched the Raise the Age campaign, calling on all states to adopt the 14-year-old UN  standard. Tiffany mentioned that youth offenders come out of custody without education or skills and  that government must work with community organisations to reduce youth offending.

For further information 

https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/call-to-scrap-outdated-law-that-allows-10-year-olds-to-be-charged-20200521-p54va1.html

https://www.lawcouncil.asn.au/resources/submissions/council-of-attorneys-general-age-of-criminal-responsibility-working-group-review

United Nations Association of Australia, Victoria, Status of Women Committee.

During the 14 July meeting, Status of Women Committee National convenor, Sheila Byard  congratulated WIZO Australia on our 100th anniversary and wished us many years of continued  success.

Judith Van Unen National President, Business and Professional Women Australia 2000 – 2004. reported that on 10 July 2020 Israel passed “The Prohibition of Consumption of Prostitution Services  Act” and implemented the Nordic Model.

The Nordic Model aims to reduce demand for prostitution services by criminalising the actions of  buyers and pimps instead of the prostituted persons. The law imposes fines for consuming prostitution  and recognises the harmful nature of prostitution. The Act is part of a suite of measures including

public education, trauma counselling and practical support to help trafficked women rebuild their  lives.

For further information

Israel becomes the 8th Nordic Model country as it implements its Prohibition of Consumption of Prostitution Services Act

WIZO’s input at the 2014 Nordic Forum on Gender Equality in Malmo, Sweden http://www.wizo.org.il/Media/Doc/08.07.2014/WIZO%20chaverot%20make%20an%20impact%20at %20the%20Nordic%20Forum%20on%20Gender%20Equality%20in%20Malmo.pdf

So dear members, it is heartening that even during this Covid-19 affected times the efforts to achieve  social justice in Australia and Israel continue.

Nina Richwol 
Community Liaison Officer
WIZO Australia

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