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Ashley Youth Detention Centre

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Tuesday, 5 September 2023

Tags: Ashley Youth Detention Centre, Commission of Inquiry


Despite your minister's claims, Ashley Youth Detention Centre continues to be a source of trauma and devastation for the young people sent there. In July, the Commissioner for Children and Young People revealed that children incarcerated at Ashley have been subjected to restrictive practices every day since June last year. Two months later, this appalling streak continues unbroken. Even worse, Ms McLean said recently the only children in Ashley now are those on remand.

Your Government is sending dozens of children not sentenced of a crime to this notorious detention centre forcing them to spend lonely days, isolated in a cell sometimes for 23 hours at a time. Ashley Youth Detention Centre offends against the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child every day.

In her final remarks, the commission of inquiry's president called for Ashley to close as a matter of urgency. The new youth therapeutic sites are not finalised and will not be built for years. Will you step in and take control and find an interim safe space with the urgency these young vulnerable people deserve?



Mr Speaker, I thank the member for the question. The Tasmanian Government is committed to developing a youth justice system that achieves better outcomes for young people and families and keeps our community safe. We understand the calls for closing the Ashley Youth Detention Centre and I was with you, present in the room, when commissioner Neave made what were very sobering comments not only about the report but also about Ashley Youth Detention Centre and I heed the words of commissioner Neave as you have quoted.

The Government has looked more broadly than the initial announcement to close Ashley, to now have reform of the whole youth justice system which includes raising the minimum age of detention to 14 years. Right now, the commission of inquiry recommendations are also being incorporated into our plans. We do want to progress our plan to close Ashley and at the same time transition to new contemporary therapeutic facilities and models of care. This will help ensure we have fewer young people in detention and more young people catered for and supported through a range of facilities and wraparound services and supports that they need. This also means that we are investing in people and models of care that ensure that young people we have in detention right now are safe and that our detention centre is working for them.

Since the Government first announced the closure of Ashley, a comprehensive reform of the youth justice system with three key priorities has been under way. The first, as we have indicated, has been a range of actions to ensure the safety and wellbeing of young people in custody at the Ashley Youth Detention Centre.

Dr Woodruff - They are not safe.

Mr SPEAKER - Order. Member for Franklin, order.

Mr ROCKLIFF - Our Keeping Kids Safe Plan is publicly available and it documents significant work completed and under way to make Ashley as safe as it can be during the transition. The second has been the development of our over-arching blueprint for the entire youth justice system which will set the strategic directions over the next 10 years. The third key priority has been the development of our new approach to youth justice facilities that will replace the AYDC.

Our analysis of best-practice approaches from around the world has led us towards differentiated facilities that work together to ensure the fewest young people end up in custody and those who do are supported never to return, either to detention or indeed an adult prison. Our model is comprised of one detention and remand centre located in the south, two assisted bail facilities one in the north or north-west and one in the south and two supported residential facilities one in the north or north-west and one in the south. The 2022 23 and 2023 24 budgets provided some $50 million of investment to support the delivery of new facilities under our youth justice reform program.