New home for troubled Tas youth centre

Tasmania's government plans to build a new youth detention centre in the state's south to replace the current facility which has been the subject of harrowing evidence at a child sexual abuse inquiry.

There have been widespread calls, including from the national children's commissioner and human rights groups, to immediately shut the Ashley Youth Detention Centre.

The centre in north west Tasmania, which has operated for more than 20 years, was described at inquiry hearings earlier this year as a "monster" with a culture of brutality.

The state government has remained unmoved from a September 2021 pledge to close the centre by the end of 2024 and set up new facilities.

Minister for Children and Youth Roger Jaensch on Tuesday announced a new youth detention/remand centre will be built in the state's south.

Two assisted bail facilities, one in the north or north west and one in the south, plus two supported residential facilities, one in the north or north west and one in the south, will also be built.

"The southern detention/remand centre will provide the opportunity for intensive intervention and rehabilitation through a therapeutic model of care," Mr Jaensch said.

"This facility will be limited to young people over the age of 14 with exceptions for those who commit the most serious crimes."

He said the assisted bail and residential facilities would aim to reduce re-offending rates by providing young people with education or work opportunities.

The government has contracted a company to update or install CCTV cameras at Ashley after a September review into black spots at the facility.

The review found "the absence of adequate CCTV coverage leaves children and young people vulnerable to abuse or sexual coercion from staff and staff vulnerable to accusations of abuse".

The government also released a 10-year draft youth justice blueprint which is open for final consultation until December 23.

State Commissioner for Children and Young People Leanne McLean said she would review the announcements.

"I note that onsite specialist clinical services and support for children and staff at Ashley have been secured as part of the ... plan," she said.

"These and other efforts to improve the safety and wellbeing of children at Ashley are welcome.

"However, there is still much work to be done before staffing levels return to levels sufficient to enable restrictive practices to be lifted sustainably and children's rights are upheld."

The inquiry into child sexual abuse in state government institutions is expected to deliver a final report and recommendations by May.

A senior public servant told the inquiry the government's timeline for closing Ashley and setting up a new model was tight.

As part of reforms, the government plans to raise the age of criminal detention from 10 to 14 by the end of 2024.

It also on Tuesday tabled legislation in parliament that creates a criminal offence for people in authority who fail to protect children from the risk of sexual abuse.