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Inspection of Youth Custodial Services Report Redactions

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 17 October 2019

Tags: Ashley Youth Detention Centre, Custodial Inspector

Inspection of Youth Custodial Services Report, Cassy O'Connor, 17 October, 2019


Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise to talk about one of the most extraordinary report tabling incidents in my 11 years in the Tasmanian parliament. This morning the custody inspection report, Inspection of Youth Custodial Services in Tasmania 2018, undertaken by the custodial inspector, Mr Richard Connock, who also happens to be the Ombudsman, was tabled in the Tasmanian parliament, but in a circumstance that I have not seen in a report that has been tabled in the parliament, multiple redactions are made to Mr Connock's report and his recommendations.

The minister, Mr Jaensch, needs to explain what has happened here. Unfortunately for the person who did the redactions, this is the story of two blacks. It is the story of words being highlighted in black basically, then printed where you can see the words underneath the redaction. What we know from this attempt to cover up how disastrous the situation is at the Ashley Youth Detention Centre. When you read underneath the black, it says, for example, there is no metal detector or screening at the gate for contraband or weapons. The custodial inspector noted the ease with which it is possible to bring drugs into Ashley Youth Detention Centre; that systems to prevent young people from 'unlawfully leaving the centre undetected', that is escape, are inadequate; that there is inadequate security coverage of the facility; that there are multiple blind spots of cameras that are there to monitor the perimeter; and that young people there are unsafe, not secure.

For some reason things have been redacted - and I find this really hard to understand - such as 'the inspection team was advised that young people are - black box - searched'. When you go underneath the black box the word there is 'pat', so a decision has been made to redact the word 'pat' from this document. We really need an explanation from the minister. There has also been another recommendation made about how to make sure the centre is preventing contraband from entering and leaving the site. The report also notes that Ashley Youth Detention staff are not alcohol and drug tested.

As we know, in utter madness, middle managers at Hobart City Council are alcohol and drug-tested, yet this Government cannot get itself together to make sure that the people who are dealing with highly vulnerable, disadvantaged young people who find themselves in Ashley for a whole range of reasons, are drug and alcohol tested.

We also find, when we go underneath the black, that visitors to the centre are not searched. Contractors and vehicles are not searched. There are no background checks on contractors who go into Ashley Youth Detention Centre, where we are talking about children between the age of 10 and 18. The report notes the risk to the safety of staff and residents. It notes that there is no register of contraband and also that staff said no contraband had been found when it became clear that there had been no searches for contraband.

On and on it goes underneath the redactions, a damning indictment on the management of Ashley Youth Detention Centre. It sits on the head of this minister, and indeed, regrettably, the entire Government.

As we know, in 2016 a report was handed down into the options for the future of Ashley Youth Detention Centre, which is ineffective, does not have a proper therapeutic model, and is highly expensive. The preferred option, of course, was to close down Ashley and to develop a more therapeutic and responsive model for young people. What did the Government do? They ignored the report for two years and just before the last state election, to shore up those votes in northern Lyons and around Deloraine, decided to keep the Ashley Youth Detention Centre going.

There are a couple of issues that are raised by these redactions. Why has the Custodial Inspector's report been so heavily redacted? Who redacted that report? There is a question about the lawfulness of these redactions because the report is made possible through the Custodial Inspector Act 2016. Section 25 Offences Against Inspector, states -

A person must not -

(a) Without reasonable excuse, wilfully obstruct, hinder, resist or threaten the inspector, or an office of the inspector, in the performance of functions under this Act.

So if you highlight the key words 'without reasonable excuse', 'wilfully hinder the inspector in the performance of functions under this act', there is a legitimate question about the decision-making matrix behind redacting this damning report.

There is no question, it is the same today as it was in 2016 and prior to that. The Ashley Youth Detention Centre must be closed. At any given time, there are eight to 10 young people in there. It costs the taxpayers around $8 million to $10 million a year. We are churning young people out of Ashley straight in to Risdon Prison. It is a bad model; it is a failed model.

We have a policy that we developed that we took to the last election. It is based on the evidence from the Missouri Model of Juvenile Rehabilitation which has a therapeutic approach to youth justice, so you make sure that you are giving those kids the best possible chance in life and you are keeping the community safer.

I do not understand why the minister has not come into parliament and explained why there has been such an attempt to cover up the real situation at Ashley Youth Detention Centre. I hear on the news that the minister was unaware of the redactions in this report that he tabled this morning. I know how this stuff works. Sometimes there is a report sitting on your chair for tabling, but you should have looked at it. It is a damning indictment on the minister and, regrettably, on the agency because someone, somewhere, has tried to cover up the situation at Ashley.