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Custodial Inspector’s Report Confirms Ashley Must Close

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 4 March 2021

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

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

Another Custodial Inspector report, another swathe of critical failures at Ashley Youth Detention Centre (AYCD) have been exposed. 

Tabled in Parliament today, the Custodial Inspector’s Resources and Systems Inspection Report 2019, makes it clear the workplace culture at AYCD is not beneficial to the health and wellbeing of staff or young detainees.

This is just what the Liberals were told by expert consultants who produced the Noetic Report. They recommended Ashley be closed and replaced with two smaller, therapeutic centres north and south. 

The Liberals ignored the evidence and expert advice, and kept Ashley open to shore up their vote in Lyons in the lead up to the 2018 election. This is an ongoing tragedy of the Liberals’ making.

The majority of staff surveyed by the Custodial Inspector made significant negative comments about management, including serious concerns about practices, procedural failures and nepotism. Disturbingly, it also notes youth workers are expected to clean toilets, and aren’t provided with sufficient equipment to do so hygienically.

It is of significant concern that not every person contracted to work at the site has Working with Vulnerable People registration. This will shock many Tasmanians, especially in the wake of investigations of abuse at Ashley and the terrible circumstances surrounding the Griffin matter at the Launceston General Hospital. 

The report finds that key training to respond to emotional, psychological and physical harm is not mandatory and not completed by many staff. Detainees also do not have access to private, unrecorded help lines.

The report also makes it clear that a lack of resourcing is leading to a failure to transition to a therapeutic model. This is failing young people’s chances of turning their lives around and staying out of Ashley or Risdon prison.

The mistreatment, and at times abuse, of young people at Ashley has been long-standing and systemic.  It’s also a fact that a number of Ashley staff have been stood down in recent months. 

Ashley Youth Detention Centre is sick and it continues to fail at every hurdle. How many reports highlighting its complete failures will it take before the Liberals do the right thing by young offenders, and close it?