Spike in number of children detained in Ashley demands urgent action

The Tasmanian Government’s response to the Commission of Inquiry promised urgent and evidence-based action to protect children, including the closure of Ashley Youth Detention Centre due to serious and ongoing safety risks at the facility, but a current spike in child detainees raises serious concerns that demand immediate action.

TasCOSS CEO, Adrienne Picone, said despite promises to close Ashley and progress legislative changes to reduce the number of children involved in the criminal justice system, the number of children currently held in detention at Ashley has recently spiked.

According to the Commissioner for Children and Young People, at the start of the week there were 26 children and young people being held at Ashley — a facility we know is unsafe for any child — most of whom are on remand,” Ms Picone said.

“TasCOSS shares the serious concerns of the Commissioner and echos her call for the Government to establish an urgent taskforce aimed at reducing the number of children at Ashley.

“Tasmanians cannot wait any longer for changes to protect our children and communities. The Government must act now to enact policy and legislative changes, including those recommended by the Commissioner, to move children out of detention and reduce the number of children interacting with our criminal justice system.

“It is imperative the Government works collaboratively with the community services industry to promote a therapeutic response which upholds the safety and wellbeing of young people and provides the necessary resources and supports to aid their rehabilitation.

“Community organisations are ready to work with the Government to identify and address the needs of all children currently incarcerated at Ashley and plan for their transition to community-based care.”