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Premier – Ashley Youth Detention Centre

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Monday, 23 November 2020

Tags: Ashley Youth Detention Centre, Working with Vulnerable People

Ms O'CONNOR - While you are here, Ms Clarke, the Youth Custodial Inspector's report which was released, very poorly redacted, last October, raised some really serious concerns about people coming on and off the site without working with vulnerable people registration, laxity of security and it placed a question mark over whether those young people are safe. Are you able to update the committee on the responses to the Youth Custodial Inspector's report?

Ms CLARKE - When the custodial inspector lodged his annual report in the parliament recently, a table was attached to that report that provided an update for Communities Tasmania. We have an additional updated progress report which I am happy to provide on notice out of session which provides the update of those security measures. Some of the redacted information did relate to broader security which has been improved since that time and additional safeguards put in place.

Ms O'CONNOR - Chair, before we go any further, Ms Clarke offered to provide a report to the committee. Are we able to agree that updated report can be given to the committee? Yes, thank you.


Ms O'CONNOR - I would like to go back to Ashley, Premier. This is as much as anything else now that you have announced the commission of inquiry to help you understand some of what we believe are systemic cultural issues at Ashley. There was an incident in recent times where young detainees from Ashley were on the roof. Our information is that the police were turned away at the time by the then assistant manager who has since been stood down subject to some confronting allegations that were aired in parliament last week. Then that person re-created the file note that gave him permission to put children into isolation, which he didn't have, and computer records were changed.

Are you aware that this person, while they'd been stood down from Ashley, had been transferred to manage the Silverdome in Launceston? Do you think that's appropriate? What's your response to those allegations and do you think it's appropriate that a person who's subject to very serious allegations is now managing Silverdome?

Mr GUTWEIN - I would need to need to get advice on that. I am not aware that that's the case. Thank you for raising it. I will get advice and report back.

Ms O'CONNOR - Okay. The Minister for Human Services put out a media release on 19 October relating to the Ashley allegations and this just followed question time. It is our understanding that the person was stood down on 9 November and the media release issued by the minister was on 19 November. It was 10 days after the fact that Tasmanians were made aware that senior management at Ashley had been stood down. Why wasn't an announcement made at the time? Why does it take questions in question time and then for it to blow up publicly for your minister, your Government, to acknowledge that things were not as they should be at Ashley?

Mr GUTWEIN - There is a learning here. I have indicated today that a number of matters like this are expected to come forward over time. I think when somebody is stood down as a result of an historical abuse allegation, and an investigation is under way, that that matter should be made public straight away.

Ms O'CONNOR - That's good. What you're saying is that there will be more transparency around these sorts of allegations and potential suspensions in the future?

Mr GUTWEIN - Absolutely.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you.

Mr GUTWEIN - We have not been in this situation before. That is not an excuse but it is a statement of fact that with redress and the processes engaged there will be a significant number of redress claims that will come through. Some of them, not all of them, in fact I think the vast majority, will not impact on current employees. But where they do and where investigations are commenced and employees are stood down, I think it's important that we provide that information as soon as possible.