Dr WOODRUFF question to MINISTER for HUMAN SERVICES, Mr JAENSCH
The allegations that many children were sexually abused by a nurse who worked at the Launceston General Hospital for 18 years has shocked Tasmanians. It has also been confirmed that same person was also employed at the Ashley Youth Detention Centre for five months in 2017.
As minister responsible for Tasmania's most vulnerable children, you would be acutely aware of the impact of abuse and trauma on a young person. Your Government's independent investigation has limited terms of reference and focuses on the systems within the Tasmanian Health Service only and not on cultural issues or individual actions or cases.
The Health and Community Services Union has joined the ANMF in calling for a commission of inquiry into this matter. A commission of inquiry would enable this matter to be properly and openly investigated with protections for witnesses and the power to collect evidence.
Will you do the right thing by the children in your care and previous detainees and establish a commission of inquiry that includes scrutiny of any alleged incidents at Ashley Youth Detention Centre?
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her question. I can confirm that we as a Government, me as a minister, and my department, Communities Tasmania, takes all and any allegations of abuse or risk of abuse that may be there against children and young people very seriously, particularly if those are children in our care.
As you pointed out, I am advised by my department that Mr Griffin was seconded to the Ashley Youth Detention Centre for a little over five months from late 2017 in a position of nurse. I am advised that there is no record of any complaints made by young people or staff at Ashley Youth Detention Centre in relation to Mr Griffin.
All allegations are promptly reported to Tasmania Police if they arise. This includes any allegations that may be described as historical. The department undertakes careful and detailed assessment to ensure the immediate safety of children and young people in care or in detention. The department has a documented procedure to respond to historical or current allegations of abuse against employees of the department, including working with Tasmania Police. I will not speak further on matters that are the subject of current inquiries. However, our procedures ensure that when relevant, allegations are reported to Tasmania Police. We will participate in the inquiry as required, and always work in the best interests of the children and young people in our care.