The prosecution and sentencing of children for Commonwealth terrorist offences

The former Prime Minister, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull has referred for my review ‘the prosecution and sentencing of children for Commonwealth terrorist offences’.


My role under the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor Act 2010 (Cth) (INSLM Act) is to review the operation, effectiveness and implications of Australia’s counter-terrorism and national security legislation on an ongoing basis.  This includes considering whether the laws contain appropriate safeguards for protecting the rights of individuals, remain proportionate to any threat of terrorism or threat to national security or both, and remain necessary. 

I intend to review certain legislation and powers in relation to the prosecution and sentencing of children for Commonwealth terrorist offences, in particular, the following:

  1. Prosecution of children:  Section 20C of the Crimes Act (Cth) means that a child charged with a Commonwealth terrorism offence may be tried, punished or otherwise dealt with as if the offence was an offence against a law of a State or Territory.  The requirements for the trial of children differ among the States and Territories. The review will consider whether Commonwealth legislation should ensure a consistent approach to such matters.
  2. Sentencing: Section 19AG of the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth) establishes minimum non-parole periods for persons convicted of certain offences. For most terrorism offences, upon conviction, s 19AG (2) compels the court to fix a single non-parole period of at least three-quarters of the sentence for that offence. The review will consider whether s 19AG should be amended for children convicted of Commonwealth terrorism offences.

For the purposes of the reference ‘children’ means people between 10 and 17 years of age.  The reference does not include consideration of changing the age of criminal responsibility for children.


The INSLM invites organisations and members of the public to make submissions on this matter for the INSLM’s consideration.  Advertisements seeking submissions will appear in the national news publications in the coming week. Submissions are to be provided by 15 June 2018.  Submissions received after this date may not be considered for this review, but are welcome throughout the year relating to other matters.

Further guidance about making a submission, including accessibility and other content requirements, are available on this website.  (Please refer to the Submissions information on this website

Submissions to ‘the prosecution and sentencing of children for Commonwealth terrorist offences’ review will be published progressively. Publication will not be immediate as submissions need to be read and processed prior to publication.  Submissions will be allocated a number in the order they are received and are published in that order. If you wish to make a confidential submission, or wish for part of your submission to be withheld from publication, please indicate this in your submission.

Persons who make submissions may be invited by the INSLM to give evidence at hearings conducted under the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor Act 2010 (Cth) (INSLM Act).

Views or opinions expressed in submissions reflect the views of the persons or entities making those submissions only. The publication of submissions on this website does not constitute any form of endorsement in either those submissions, or views or opinions expressed within them, by the INSLM.

Copyright in submissions or other related materials is not vested in the Commonwealth or the INSLM. The Australian Government does not accept responsibility for any breaches of copyright subsisting in submissions or other related materials.


The INSLM will hold a public hearing associated with this inquiry 2 August 2018 at QT Canberra, 1 London Cir Canberra.  Further details on this hearing will be provided at a later date. If you wish to participate in the hearing please contact Mark Mooney at the Office of the INSLM on 02 6271 5570 or email the INSLM office at

The Public Hearing will be live streamed and teleconference facilities will be provided. Please check website closer to the date for dial in phone numbers and web link to stream.

Background documents and information