'Given a voice': youth centre victims reach $75m deal

Former detainees abused at Tasmania's youth detention centre have reached an in-principle multimillion-dollar settlement with the state.

The legal class action alleged 129 children were abused between 1960 and 2023 at Ashley Youth Detention Centre, formerly called the Ashley Home for Boys.

It is alleged detainees were stripsearched naked, subjected to isolation and beatings as punishment and encouraged to attack each other by staff.

The Ashley Youth Detention Centre (file image)
There have been widespread calls for Ashley Youth Detention Centre to be closed. (Ethan James/AAP PHOTOS)

The settlement is subject to court approval, which could take up to six months to obtain, lead lawyer Angela Sdrinis says.

"I am pleased that the matter has resolved in principle and that we have been able to give our clients a voice," she said in a statement on Friday.

"The government lawyers were provided with details of the allegations and impacts on each member of the class and I am satisfied that they were heard.

"I believe that our clients will be happy with the outcome."

Ms Sdrinis said it was hoped all claims from the legal action, which was filed with the Supreme Court of Tasmania in August 2022, would be resolved and paid within 12 months.

She said the government had been proactive in progressing the settlement and had operated in a trauma-informed way.

"Financial counselling will also be made available to all group members who will be encouraged to get advice," Ms Sdrinis said.

"(We) trust that the resolution of the claim will allow our clients to move forward and will assist in their healing."

The Commission of Inquiry report
The commission of inquiry's report detailed the detainee's treatment. (Ethan James/AAP PHOTOS)

The centre was described as a monster during hearings of a commission of inquiry into child sexual abuse in state government institutions.

One former detainee told the inquiry he was raped at least 20 times by a guard and sexually assaulted more than 50 times by other staff who withheld his ADHD medication.

The inquiry's final report, made public in September, said a risk of abuse remained at the centre and called for it to be closed as soon as possible.

The government in 2021 pledged to shut the centre by the end of 2024, but has pushed back the date to mid-2026 as part of broader youth justice reforms.

Community groups, politicians, legal experts and human rights groups including Amnesty International are among those who have called for the centre to be closed.

The government has declined to comment on the settlement.

Roger Jaensch
Roger Jaensch says the government is working to reduce detainee numbers at the centre. (Rob Blakers/AAP PHOTOS)

The number of children at the centre reached a historic high of 26 in May and there were 13 detained on Thursday, according to the government.

Minister for Children and Youth Roger Jaensch said the government was working to reduce the number of detainees.

"We realise that a highly individual case-by-case assessment is needed," he told state parliament on Thursday.

"No two young people have the same story or the same needs."

Lifeline 13 11 14

Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 (for people aged 5 to 25)

1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)

National Sexual Abuse and Redress Support Service 1800 211 028