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Ashley Review Builds Case for Closure

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 1 September 2016

Tags: Children and Young People, Youth Justice, Young People, Ashley Youth Detention Centre

Cassy O'Connor MP | Greens Leader and Human Services spokesperson

The Independent Review of Ashley Youth Detention Centre makes it clear the model for dealing with young offenders in Tasmania has failed.

These failures increase the likelihood of problems at Ashley, poorer outcomes for young people and a less safe community.

The changes announced by the Minister for Human Services are unfortunately just tinkering at the edges.  Ultimately, Ashley Youth Detention Centre must be closed.

The current model is too focussed on security and a punitive approach. The review confirms that young detainees at Ashley are housed in bleak conditions and are extremely bored outside of school hours. There simply isn't enough work on therapeutic interventions.

There are significant and longstanding cultural problems at Ashley, with too many staff inadequately trained to support young people.

Ashley Youth Detention Centre costs taxpayers around $10M a year to run, and it's not leading to good outcomes for young people. Too often it is a pathway to Risdon Prison. 

We can do better by these young people, we can do better by taxpayers and we can make our community safer in the process.

This is a call to action. The government needs to put forward real alternatives to Ashley instead of putting this issue into the too-hard basket. 

We are talking about vulnerable young people being failed by the system and taxpayer dollars that are not being spent effectively. Ashley is a model that's failed.

There's a national focus on youth justice, and this report should be the government's impetus to put forward alternatives to the Ashley Youth Detention Centre.

The alternative must be one that recognises these young people deserve the opportunity to do their time and leave the youth justice system better equipped to make something of their lives and contribute to their communities.