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Liberals Fail to Reassure Tasmanians on Ashley Closure

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 23 August 2022

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

Cassy O’Connor MP | Greens Leader

The Rockliff Government, particularly Minister Roger Jaensch, have been dragging their collective heels on closing the Ashley Youth Detention Centre for a year.

Almost exactly a year ago, then-Premier Gutwein promised Ashley would close within three years. In Parliament today, when the Greens asked the Premier and Minister Jaensch for an update on the closure and a reassurance the new therapeutic youth justice facilities would be in place by September 2024, as promised, we just got ducking and weaving.

It seems all the progress made so far is two bureaucratic appointments to oversee the reform, while the Minister waits for an options paper. The dithering Minister Jaensch cannot, apparently, walk and chew gum at the same time.

The Commission of Inquiry has heard harrowing evidence of extreme violence towards, and sexual assault of, children at Ashley, as well as a persistent culture of abuse and cover up. 

There was also evidence presented of grave bureaucratic failings and more cover up that has caused harm to children and young people.

The horrors of Ashley raised at the Commission need addressing urgently. That's why we asked the Premier and Minister Jaensch to update Tasmanians on progress to deliver much better outcomes in youth justice through Ashley's closure and a modern, therapeutic approach.

Every day of delay is a day the children and young people at Ashley are at risk of harm, as children and young people have been over a century of its operation.

A year in and it's clear progress is glacial. No sites have been identified, no designs finalized nor tenders for construction and service delivery gone out.

We didn't get a confession out of government today, but it seems highly unlikely the Liberals will meet the 2024 deadline to close the Ashley House of Horrors.