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Ashley Youth Detention Centre - Safety of Children

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 14 September 2021

Tags: Ashley Youth Detention Centre, Justice

Ms O'CONNOR question to the PREMIER, Mr GUTWEIN

Last Thursday, after a century of horror and abuse, you rightly announced you would be closing Ashley Youth Detention Centre and replacing it with two therapeutic centres, north and south. When you announced Ashley would close you said unequivocally, 'The children at Ashley are safe and I want to be absolutely clear about that'.

Given the history of the systematic brutalisation of children at Ashley we think more detail is needed. Budget Estimates reveal that more than half of the ED5 Code of Conduct complaints at Communities Tasmania originated at Ashley.

What steps are you putting in place to ensure the children held at Ashley are safe and what independent oversight will you make sure is in place over the next three years until that hell-hole is finally shut down?



Mr Speaker, I thank the Leader of the Greens for that question. As I said last week, unfortunately, as a result of the historic sexual abuse claims that Ashley has been confronted with, the challenges it faces, regardless of the very good efforts of the staff and the steps we have taken in the model at Ashley evidenced by the feedback from the custodial inspector and the Commissioner for Children and Young People, Ashley will continue to be stigmatised.

As a result of that, there is a concern that I and this Government hold that the young people who need to spend time at Ashley are going to have challenges in their rehabilitation. It is not conducive to a therapeutic model. We have made the difficult decision to close that facility. We will continue to remain engaged with the Commissioner for Children and Young People and the Custodial Inspector. If there needs to be any further support provided, as I foreshadowed last Thursday, those supports will be provided.

There have been calls to do away with detention completely -

Ms O'Connor - Not from us.

Mr GUTWEIN - Well, from others. Unfortunately, we will need a detention centre. The model we are moving to will provide opportunities for detention. We will take a holistic view of what is required to ensure, in the first instance, that we do as much as we possibly can in the community to ensure young people do not end up in the system in the first place. If they do, there will be a therapeutic model to ensure we can do everything possible to enable them to rejoin our society when it is safe for them to do so.

We will continue to remain engaged with the Commissioner for Children and Young People and the Custodial Inspector. If there is a need for additional supports, those additional supports will be provided.