Primary Schools Parliamentary Convention

Rozenkranz Centre for Excellence and Achievement Tuesday, 06 June 2023

On Tuesday 6 June, five students from Year 5 represented Bialik at the 2023 Primary Schools’ Parliamentary Convention joining over 70 other school students.  The topic of the day was, “Should the age of criminal responsibility be increased from 10 years of age?”  The day was held at Parliament House, Melbourne, with all proceedings taking place within the Legislative Assembly.  The day began with a Welcome to Country delivered by Wurundjeri Elder Bill Nicholson and a welcome to attendees delivered by Ken Macpherson, Chief of Staff to the Attorney General of Victoria, Jaclyn Symes MLC. Ken spoke to us about his and the Attorney General’s roles and shared the background and complexities involved in the topic of the day, explaining that it will also be discussed and debated in parliament later this year.

Following an explanation of how Parliament works, and what takes place in The Legislative Assembly by Narelle Wood, the students heard opening addresses from 14 representatives of the schools in attendance, with Bialik being proudly represented by Itay Z.

The day continued with 2 keynote addresses followed by Q and A sessions. Andrew Yule, General Manager from Jesuit Social Services, and Patrick Cook from The Aboriginal Legal Service both spoke about many of the surrounding circumstances of children who offend and end up in detention. They also discussed rehabilitation and how we can respond to child offenders in an age-appropriate way that paves a way for a positive future for them. 

Following a lunch break students broke into mixed school discussion groups where they discussed and debated the reasons for and against raising the age of criminal responsibility above 10, with representatives from each group reporting back to the assembly.  Individual students then had the opportunity to share their personal views during the soap box session.  The final vote showed that the majority of attendees believe the age of criminal responsibility should be increased from 10 years of age. The day was a very interesting and provocative one as we heard and learnt about emotive, factual, and well researched views and perspectives.