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Ashley Youth Detention Centre - Ongoing Issues

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Wednesday, 18 October 2023

Tags: Ashley Youth Detention Centre


The commission of inquiry found that child sexual abuse at Ashley Youth Detention Centre is not merely a historical problem for the centre but remains a live and current risk. Do you agree this is true? Do you accept their finding that human rights violations have continued and will continue to occur at the centre?



Mr Speaker, I thank the member, Dr Woodruff, for her question. It is our role as the caretakers of young people in our detention facilities, in our youth justice system, to keep them as safe as possible -


Opposition members interjecting.

Mr SPEAKER - Order, order.

Mr JAENSCH - It is our obligation to keep all young people safe, including in our detention facilities. We are required and we honour our commitments to all standards, conventions and undertakings that provide guidance for us on how we provide those facilities and how we keep them safe. We have instituted a process of independent oversight and monitoring of Ashley Youth Detention Centre since our time in government, including with the operation for the custodial inspector.

Dr WOODRUFF - Point of order, Mr Speaker, Standing Order 45, relevance. This is a matter of integrity. A simple yes or no: does he agree with the commission of inquiry's findings?

Mr SPEAKER - Order. First of all, that is not a point of order. The minister was answering the question, from my point of view, and I will allow the minister to continue.

Mr JAENSCH - Thank you very much. We have established systems of independent oversight, involving the custodial inspector, the Commissioner for Children and Young People, their advocate for children in detention, the Australian Childhood Foundation and others to ensure that the practices and the procedures at Ashley Youth Detention Centre are transparent, that they are observed by independent eyes and that they are compliant with the standards and the conventions that we are obligated to.

I am aware that from time to time there have been questions raised about the use of isolation or restrictive practice by various parties who have reported to the Commission of Inquiry and have been reiterated in their findings as well. I do understand that we are subject to conventions regarding the use of isolation as a form of punishment. I also am advised that the use of 'time out' that involves providing scope for young people to de-escalate after an incident or an event is not considered a form of punishment, nor is the use of restrictive practices when, for the safety of residents and staff at Ashley due to staffing ratios, we have been unable to provide the full program of services.

Where there is an interpretation of that as use of isolation, some contend that it relates to conventions that are intended to ensure we are not using isolation as a form of punishment, so we are constantly conscious of this, maintaining the correct staffing ratios, ensuring that young people have access to the full range of services and programs available to them in the Ashley Youth Detention Centre and will continue to do that. I commend the staff that we have for the work that they are doing, we will continue to ensure access to the centre and independent oversight of the practices at that centre from the custodial inspector, the Commissioner for Children and Young People, their advocate, the Australian Childhood Foundation and others who from time to time have sought and been granted access to Ashley to conduct their work as independent monitors of our practices.

Mr SPEAKER - Order, your time has expired.

Before I call the next question, I remind members who ask a question, that it is not an opportunity, once you have asked it, to continually interject on the minister who is answering the question. I am going to be harder on that, so just be aware.