5 March 2021: Tasmanian Inspectorate Slams Ashley Youth Detention Centre
A damning report by the Custodial Inspector, who is required under the Custodial Inspector Act 2016 to carry out a mandatory inspection of Tasmanian custodial centres every three years has found significant ongoing issues exist in the management and operation of the Ashley Youth Detention Centre (AYDC).
Whilst the report seems to have focussed on the well being of staff, rather than the well being of inmates (apparently no inmates were interviewed by the Inspectorate), the issues picked up relating to staff and management practises point to a facility where children continue to be at risk.
The AYDC houses children of both sexes from as young as 10 but up to 18 years of age. These children are generally vulnerable, often suffering from trauma and with behavioural issues. Apart from abuse by officers, child on child abuse is a serious problem. Further, the report notes that in 2018/2019 75% of residents were on remand. This is a real worry.
The Custodial Inspector found in the AYDC:
- 12 of 60 staff have workers comp claims
- Staff are suffering from fatigue
- Nepotism in recruiting and generally poor recruitment processes were observed
- Unhealthy overtime
- Lack of procedural fairness
- Not every person who enters AYDC is required to have working with children checks
- Case plans and assessments for new residents are not being done
- Records are poorly kept, in hard copy and not easy to access
- Inadequate complaints register-only 11 entries for the entire 18/19 year
- No confidential help lines for young people
- Staff are discouraged from filing incident reports and reporting of incidents is very low
The reports findings are based on observations for the three year period 2016 to 2019. It is disappointing that it took two years for the Inspectorate to publish the report. The Department of Communities Tasmania (DCT) says that since the inspection was undertaken there has been significant progress on several recommendations in the report. Whilst the report specifies that DCT support most of the Inspector’s recommendations, it does not specify which recommendations are not supported and time frames to make changes.
Angela Sdrinis Legal and many others in Tasmania continue to advocate for the AYDC to be closed down. This is an organisation where there have been so many damning reports and reviews and recommendations over decades and year after year the same issues are noted. The damage and dysfunctionality within the AYDC and the cultural issues are so ingrained that there can be no real change and an entirely new facility, staff and management are required. We call on the Government to immediately implement a plan to close the AYDC and commence work on a new facility.
By Angela Sdrinis
Director of Angela Sdrinis Legal