The announced closure of a troubled Tasmanian youth detention centre has been welcomed by the head of the state’s Aboriginal Legal Service.
Calls for the closure of the Ashley Youth Detention Centre have been made for years. It’s been the subject of sexual abuse, child abuse and harassment claims and is the focus of a commission of inquiry.
Premier Peter Gutwein announced on Thursday the centre would close within three years and be replaced with two smaller facilities based in the north and south of the state.
“Personally I’ve long held the concern that the allegations of historical abuse and the ongoing speculation around Ashley is no conducive to achieving the best practice outcomes that we have strived for,” he said.
“Enough is enough.”
Butchulla woman Tracey Dillon is the CEO of the Tasmanian Aboriginal Legal Service, and says she would like to see the government consult with Aboriginal communities before it begins work on the replacement centres.
“We haven’t been consulted with, and I think this has been in the making for some time.
We do definitely need to be consulted so we can look at making it [the replacement youth detention centres] culturally appropriate for our Aboriginal kids who happen to be in the system, and so when they are trying to be rehabilitated they are in a place they feel a little bit comfortable in.
Ms Dillon said 40 to 60 per cent of the children in the Tasmanian youth detention system are Indigenous.
In a statement the Premier said the government would work “with stakeholders to establish and invest in a contemporary, nation-leading, therapeutic approach, across the whole youth justice system.”