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No child should spend Christmas in prison, Greens call for urgent release of child prisoners from Ashley

Cassy O'Connor MP

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Monday, 19 December 2022

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

Cassy O'Connor MP & Senator David Shoebridge

The Greens are calling for children imprisoned at Ashley Youth Detention Centre to be allowed wherever possible to spend Christmas at home with their families, including immediately reviewing children on remand. The Tasmanian Attorney General must also repeal state gag laws which prevent adult survivors from telling their stories.

Australian Greens Senator and Justice Spokesperson David Shoebridge joined Tasmanian Greens MP Cassy O’Connor in Launceston today, calling on the Tasmanian government to commit to a deadline to shut the notorious Ashley Youth Detention Centre.

This is part of a growing national campaign to shut child prisons in Australia, where currently children as young as 10 are spending up to 23 hours a day in forced isolation. Every child prison is a scene of child abuse, with the notorious Ashley child detention centre being a site of appalling institutional child abuse.

Tasmanian Greens Leader, Cassy O’Connor MP, said: 
“In recent months, children imprisoned at Ashley Youth Detention Centre have been confined to their rooms for up to 23 hours a day due to chronic understaffing.

“With this in mind, Christmas and the holiday period looks extremely grim for those kids.

“The horror stories of Ashley were laid bare through the Commission of Inquiry. Every compassionate Tasmanian would want to be reassured those children won’t be confined to their cells over Christmas and New Year.  

“The Rockliff Government must take steps to identify every young person who would be appropriate to release early, as well as opportunities to allow other out on day release for the holidays.

“For every young person remaining at Ashley, steps must be taken to ensure that they have a pleasant Christmas. This includes ensuring a full staff roster, activities and a Christmas dinner for those who celebrate Christmas. 

“At any one time, there are fewer than a dozen children in Ashley. This is not a big ask of government."

Australian Greens Senator and Justice Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:
“These children should be home with their families for Christmas, some haven’t even been before a court, yet they’re locked up in the Ashley house of horrors because the Tasmanian Liberals have failed to shut this abusive prison.

“The Albanese Labor government can’t just turn away while the States and Territories lock up children and abuse them - these child prisons are breaching Australia’s international obligations to respect children’s rights and protect them from harm. 

“Every child deserves a second chance and to be supported to grow up safe and strong with family and community, but right now Australia is condemning yet another generation of children to lives scarred by the trauma of institutional abuse. 

“The vast majority of children in prison in Australia today are First Nations - this is a stain on our nation and the Federal government needs to urgently change the law to keep children safe.

“The longstanding abuse in Ashley was enabled by gag laws that prevent even adult survivors of the institution from speaking out.

“Adult survivors of Ashley have a right to tell their stories and today we are calling on the Tasmanian Attorney General to urgently repeal these archaic laws. We need to listen to the stories of survivors and say never, ever again,” Senator Shoebridge said.