Cassy O'Connor MP | Greens Leader and Children spokesperson
The two youth justice Custodial Inspector reports tabled in Parliament today are beyond damning.
The Liberals have attempted, and failed, to redact some of the shameful results of this independent inspection of Ashley Youth Detention Centre. This raises a series of extremely serious questions about potential Ministerial interference to cover up a scandal at Ashley.
It is not clear whether these redactions are lawful under the Custodial Inspector Act 2016.
The reports show that children and young people in Ashley Youth Detention Centre are not safe and that there are abject failures to have systems in place to protect them, to prevent bullying and intimidation of young detainees, or to prevent the potential for abuse, with contractors who come on to the site not subject to searches or background checks.
One of the most concerning findings of the report is that witness reports to incidents involving the use of force or isolation are copy and pasted, meaning there are not genuine witness reports to these events. Furthermore, monthly assessments on the use of force and isolation are not conducted, despite there being a requirement for this to occur.
In 2016, a custodial youth options paper was produced. This paper presented a range of options, including the closure of Ashley for more effective, therapeutic responses to youth justice.
The option this government took was the laziest, most political one.
After stalling on a decision for nearly two years, on the eve of the State Election and to shore up votes in Lyons, the Liberals elected to upgrade the existing facility, despite the fact that the report observed “this approach limits the scope of improvements possible for the AYDC facility and the likely benefits to young people. Ultimately, refurbishment would not produce a fit-for-purpose facility.”*
The preferred option involved two new purpose built facilities. Unfortunately, the Liberals chose political expedience over evidence.
This shameful report is the most concerning in a long-line of unacceptable scandals.
It is now clearer than ever that Ashley Youth Detention Centre is not and will never be fit for purpose. It is an irredeemable institution that must be closed and replaced.