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Ashley Youth Detention Centre - Allegations of Abuse

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 25 March 2021

Tags: Ashley Youth Detention Centre, Commission of Inquiry, Child Abuse


Can you confirm that in January 2020, management of Ashley Youth Detention Centre were made aware of potential historical rape allegation involving a young adolescent and a member of staff? We also understand the same individual, that staff member, was known to have masturbated in front of children detained at the centre.

Can you also confirm that that staff member was not stood down until November 2020 when the incident was aired on the Nurse Podcast; that is, 10 months after the historical rape allegation was brought to management's attention? Further, will you tell the House when the staff member was referred to police for investigation and when his Working with Vulnerable People registration was cancelled?



Madam Speaker, I thank the Leader of the Greens for her question.

These are very serious and concerning matters that she is alluding to. I reiterate that our Government is committed to responding appropriately to all and any allegations of abuse in our Government institutions, whether they relate to historical or current day matters. In fact, my department advises me that the processes they have established set up to deal with any allegations as if they are current. Their first priority is to make an assessment as to whether there is any risk to any young person in Ashley. That is their first concerns at all times.

With regard to the other matters that Ms O'Connor raised, I will need to take advice as to which case that may be referring to. There are little pieces of information that Ms O'Conner, brings in here and I want to be very sure that I know the substance of those cases, not just the information that Ms O'Connor chooses to share with us. We take this very seriously.

It is very important as with any cases involving young people and their wellbeing that anyone in possession of information regarding the safety and wellbeing of young people has an obligation under legislation to report it to the secretary, the guardian, the police as soon as possible.

In the last question time of last year, Ms O'Connor brought some information and shared it in a question to me in this place, along similar lines. After that question time I asked Ms O'Connor to please forward us the information she had. She did and it showed that she had been sitting on that information for two weeks. It showed that she had been provided with that information two weeks prior.

Members interjecting.

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker, going to relevance. We cannot let the minister get away with this. This is information that the department already had once we forwarded it. What we would like to know is, if the minister is going to come back to the House with information about this very serious allegation, will it be today?

Madam SPEAKER - That is not a point of order. It is a second question, but I am sure the minister heard your question.

Mr JAENSCH - Madam Speaker, my experience is that when a member comes in here and shares small bits of anonymous information in this place, the best path of action for me to take is to go back and seek advice from my department to ensure we know which cases and to get advice as to how those cases are dealt with. The other thing is that where there are investigations under way and where those matters have been referred to police or other investigations, or are being referred to the commission of inquiry process, there are limitations, as we have discussed here before, on what I can report on and share here.

I will examine the information included in Ms O'Connor's question and ask her here to please forward all information she has to the secretary of my department as soon as possible.

Ms O'Connor - I've given you the information that we have.

Mr JAENSCH - I hope she has provided information as soon as she has been in possession of it because we take these cases very seriously and we want to investigate them thoroughly.