State Government-run Institutions

The Tasmanian Government established reformatory schools and detention centres to provide institutional care and confinement for young people deemed to be in the need of ‘correction’. The Child Welfare Department were responsible for the management of these government-run institutions.

Ashley Youth Detention Centre, Tasmania

In 1926, the Tasmanian Government established and opened Ashley Youth Detention Centre situated at 4260 Meander Valley Highway, Deloraine in Tasmania.

Ashley Youth Detention Centre (previously known as Ashley Home for Boys) operates as a detention centre for boys and girls aged between 10 and 18 years old who been convicted of criminal offences or had been deemed as too difficult to manage in other departmental institutions. The children are typically confined by a court order at Ashley Youth Detention Centre. Ashley Youth Detention Centre is the only institution of this kind in Tasmania.

Ashley Youth Detention Centre accommodates for 51 male and female detainees. The units at Ashley Youth Detention Centre are as follows:

  • Bronte Unit (unisex and younger detainees);
  • Huon Unit (male detainees);
  • Franklin Unit (male detainees); and
  • Liffey Unit (admissions unit).

In 2003, Ashley School was opened on the site of Ashley Youth Detention Centre. Ashley School runs courses in horticulture and aquaculture, in addition to the usual school curriculum.

Ashley Youth Detention Centre is managed by a Superintendent (or alike title) who supervises and reports to the Tasmanian government (through its agencies).

History of Abuse at Ashley Youth Detention Centre, Tasmania

Since approximately 2006, Ashley Youth Detention Centre has been involved in an increasing number of allegations and matters involving child sexual abuse. In 2006, Ashley Youth Detention Centre was prominent in the media as a result of breakouts, allegations of violence, drug smuggling, and substance abuse within the institution.

In 2010, a death of a 12 year old detainee occurred onsite at Ashley Youth Detention Centre after being physically abused by another detainee.

It is known that in 2020 an employee of Ashley Youth Detention Centre was offered a promotion despite having numerous allegations of serious misconduct against them, with at least one of those allegations being linked to a historical rape and being found naked with a detainee onsite.

Further in 2020, three staff members from Ashley Youth Detention Centre were stood down as a result of allegations of historical sexual abuse (including rape) and physical abuse. Subsequently, in September 2021, Premier Peter Gutwein announced that the Tasmanian government would conduct the Commission of Inquiry into the Tasmanian Government’s Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Institutional Settings. This inquiry found that the staff at Ashley Youth Detention Centre had covered up abuse of detainees, destroyed records and/or failed to report abuse at all. Since this inquiry commenced, more than 200 former detainees of Ashley Youth Detention Centre have alleged sexual abuse. A 2022 report provided that there were 55 alleged offenders working at Ashley Youth Detention Centre, with one of the former staff members being accused of sexually abusing at least11 former detainees over the course of 30 years.

Ashley Youth Detention Centre is still operating to this day; however, the Tasmanian Government is progressing a plan to close Ashley Youth Detention Centre after the 2021 inquiry, and transition to a contemporary therapeutic facilities and models of care by the end of 2024. Ashley Youth Detention Centre will be replaced by two smaller facilities, which aim to have a more therapeutic model of care.

We are specialist abuse lawyers and can help you receive acknowledgement, meaningful apology and financial resolution from those institutions and systems of power that failed to protect you from harm. If you would like advice in relation to a childhood or adult sexual, physical and/or psychological/emotional abuse claim in any jurisdiction in Australia, please reach out to the author, Emily Wright, at Littles Lawyers today.

Further Abuse Law information written by our Emily Wright can be found on our website.

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