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Roger Jaensch: Hapless or Heartless?

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 25 March 2021

Tags: Ashley Youth Detention Centre, Youth Justice, Human Rights, Child Abuse

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

In Question Time today, we asked the Minister for Human Services, about two very serious allegations, relating to Ashley Youth Detention Centre. 

One related to an allegation of an historical, potential rape, which was reported to AYDC management in January 2020. It wasn't until 10 months later, after journalist, Camille Bianchi’s, ‘The Nurse’ podcast was aired that the staff member who was the subject of that horrific allegation was stood down. 

We still don't know whether that matter has ever been referred to Tasmania Police. Just as we don't know whether the allegation of the sexual assault of a young adolescent by older detainees in Ashley has been referred to Tasmania Police. 

What we know, however, is that in December last year, Tasmania Police confirmed it had not received any formal complaint relating to alleged offences at Ashley. 

Now we're in March. Have Tasmania Police have been informed of these very serious allegations? 

If these matters of a most serious nature have been referred to Tasmania Police, then surely the Minister would have been able to tell that to Parliament?

It begs the question how serious does an allegation or an incident at Ashley have to be before the matter is referred to police? 

Why can’t the Minister responsible for this house of horrors give us a straight answer about the wellbeing of the young people? Why can’t he explain whether allegations of a most serious nature involving sexual assaults on children have been referred to Tasmania Police? 

Minister Jaensch’s display in Parliament today was another example in a growing list of pathetic performances. When asked critical questions about children at Ashley Youth Detention Centre, he refused to answer, and instead relied on obfuscation and misrepresentation of basic facts, otherwise known as ‘gaslighting’. 

Mr Jaensch said it was standard process for Tasmania Police to be notified of serious incidents at Ashley. He avoided answering whether they have in relation to the specific allegations we raised today. 

This assurance from the Minister is contrary to what we heard from him in Budget Estimates last year. 

The Minister also misrepresented the findings of the Custodial Youth Justice Options Paper. He tried to make it seem like the Paper endorsed his plan to refurbish Ashley, when in fact it strongly recommended Ashley’s closure and replacement with two new therapeutic facilities, north and south. 

He also demanded the Greens provide the government with information instead of raising it in Parliament.  The questions we asked were about information the Department of Communities already has. 

The Minister also claimed young detainees at Ashley have ‘care plans’ in place, yet the Youth Custodial Services Inspector report tabled in March this year, ‘audited a number of folders that had been created for new residents and the random sample reviewed were all empty folders’.

The only clarity from Question Time and the debate that followed was that Minister Jaensch is unfit for his position.

He’s either hapless, heartless - or both.