Kids' needs not met at Ashley: Tas premier

·2-min read

Tasmania's premier has conceded current detainees at the troubled Ashley Youth Detention Centre have not had their needs met amid staffing shortages.

Jeremy Rockliff on Tuesday announced several new reviews into the facility, which has been the subject of harrowing evidence at a child sexual abuse inquiry.

Former detainees have said they were raped, bashed and belittled by staff. The inquiry has been told there is evidence of abuse in recent years.

The state government has resisted calls to close Ashley immediately, instead sticking to a pledge made last September to shut the centre by the end of 2024.

The inquiry was in late August told restrictive practices were being used on the 11 children at the centre, while youth worker staff numbers were a third of the desired level.

Mr Rockliff acknowledged evidence at the inquiry has led to renewed concern over the welfare of detainees.

"I also acknowledge that recent staffing shortages have meant that young people at Ashley have not been able to have all of their needs met," he told state parliament.

The premier said five additional youth workers started at the centre on Monday, and new operations and management staff would begin over coming weeks.

"It is the government's expectation this will lead to reduction in time young people spend inside their rooms," he said.

Mr Rockliff said a security firm had started a review of Ashley's CCTV to identify "blind spots" and recommend remedial actions.

He said the government was also investigating creating clear accountabilities for heads of agencies about child safety, as well as additional support for the custodial inspector.

The state government is undergoing widespread youth justice reform and has tasked a consultant with designing two smaller therapeutic centres to replace Ashley.

The national and state children's commissioners, Amnesty International and youth justice experts are among those calling for Ashley to close immediately.

"I understand the calls to close Ashley immediately. However, it is vitally important we take the time to get this right," Mr Rockliff said.

"The appropriate care of these young people is not about bricks and mortar, it is about having the right models of care and contemporary, therapeutic approaches across the entire youth justice system."

Mr Rockliff offered an apology to former detainees and staff at the centre.

He said the Australian Childhood Foundation and the Centre for Excellence in Therapeutic Care would start a review of practices at the centre by the end of the month.

The Greens accused the state government of dithering with reform at the centre, which has operated for more than 20 years.

"This government has had eight years to develop a new model," leader Cassy O'Connor said.

She referenced a report to government in 2016 that recommended closing Ashley and shifting to two smaller centres.

The inquiry will hold further hearings examining the centre from Wednesday.