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Ashley Youth Detention Centre - Calls for Closure

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 19 November 2020

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

Ashley Youth Detention Centre - Calls for Closure, Cassy O'Connor MP, 19 November 2020



Despite growing evidence that it is a failed model, your Government ignored the advice in the independent expert Noetic report to close Ashley Youth Detention Centre in the interests of children and young people. Instead you chose to placate a township in Lyons in the lead-up to the 2018 state election. This political decision has placed young people in the state's care at risk.

Will you today correct the mistake you have made? Will you argue to divert the $6 million budgeted to rebuild this failing child prison into therapeutic rehabilitation, remove the children and close the Ashley Youth Detention Centre? Given the information disclosed today, will you also acknowledge there is potentially a wider problem in state-run institutions including Ashley and the LGH and commit to a commission of inquiry into allegations of abuse?



Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Clark for her question and start by confirming that the Ashley Youth Detention Centre is not a prison. It is a detention centre for a very small proportion of Tasmanian children and young people in the youth justice system who the courts have determined need a period of custodial detention as part of their rehabilitation and therapeutic treatment.

It is important to note for the record and those listening that the average number of young people in the Ashley Youth Detention Centre is between around 10 and 15 on any given day but there are around 200 young people in community youth justice settings and wherever possible that is the pathway chosen for those young people to assist them to reconcile the crimes they have committed and to rehabilitate and be able to re-enter normal living, taking responsibility for their actions.

The Noetic report referred to laid out a range of options and we have chosen one of them. We have allocated $7.3 million to the redesign and redevelopment of the Ashley Detention Centre as a therapeutic facility as part of a statewide therapeutic youth justice system. Included in the redesign, which is now well advanced and a preferred contractor for the construction phase has been selected, are things like the development of a step-down facility inside the Ashley Youth Detention Centre where young people who are approaching the end of their period of detention will receive additional support, mentoring and services, life skills, in a different setting where they can learn to live more independently and take responsibility for looking after themselves in preparation for their release and living independently out in the community.

That is just one of the changes being made to the old Ashley Youth Detention Centre to ensure it is providing a rehabilitative and therapeutic setting for those young people who the courts have determined need to be in a detention facility. We remain committed to delivering a statewide integrated therapeutic youth justice system. Where courts have determined that a period of detention is required, we will make the Ashley Youth Detention Centre a fit-for-purpose facility -

Ms O'Byrne - Right now, how many staff have had to be stood down?

Madam SPEAKER - Ms O'Byrne, you will get a turn later.

Mr JAENSCH - that is focused on the best interests of those kids and their successful reintegration into the community.