Draft Youth Justice Blueprint

Friday 02 December, 2022

The Tasmanian Aboriginal Legal Service today called on the State Government to release action plans and implement a transparent consultation process around its Final Draft Youth Justice Blueprint.

TALS Acting-State Manager Hannah Phillips said reforms will not succeed without a transparent consultation strategy, an action plan and resources to deliver the plan.

“Considered, inclusive and resourced consultation must occur, but action plans can be developed at the same time,” Ms Phillips said.

“TALS is supportive of a shift to therapeutic facilities, but we have concerns about how children in five facilities can be kept safe, when they appear not to be able to be kept safe in one.

“Who is going to be responsible for the independent oversight to ensure young people are protected in these five facilities?

“The cyclical nature of scandal and abuse arising from within Ashley Detention Centre is not isolated, it is a product of a broken system, one which has continually disadvantaged the most vulnerable members of society. More needs to happen right now, beyond some stopgap measures to try and protect young people in detention.”

Ms Phillips said the Draft Blueprint has been released for targeted consultation, with submissions due on 23 December.

The Blueprint spans ten years and outlines a strategic direction for Tasmania’s youth justice system. It has been announced that five facilities will be purpose built, two Assisted Bail Facilities, two Support Centre Facilities and one remand/detention facility.

TALS Community Engagement and Programs Manager Lee-Anne Carter said it is essential the Tasmanian State Government identify and remedy areas of critical need within the current youth justice system.

“The current wellbeing risk and significant safety challenges will be amplified into a perpetual culture of harm unless there is a plan of action.

“Aboriginal children are largely overrepresented in custodial facilities across Australia, and Tasmania is no exception.

“An Aboriginal consultation strategy must be developed as a priority. The approach to Aboriginal community consultation in Tasmania appears to be ad hoc and limited, and many communities are not resourced to have a voice at the table.”

Ms Carter said despite constant calls from communities and stakeholders, current Tasmanian methods of early intervention are far behind national standards and offer little to no directed, culturally appropriate supports for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families.

“This new model is an advancement but without relevant cultural training and supports offers little of benefit to Aboriginal communities. Aboriginal children deserve to have their cultural needs met in a safe and supported way.”

Ms Carter said particular care must be taken to ensure that Aboriginal cultural needs are met through such oversight policies, the cultural safety of Aboriginal children should be prioritised with as much urgency as their physical safety.

“Regrettably, the reforms outlined within the ‘Plan for AYDC until its intended closure’ sadly offer little to no explicit mention of improving cultural safeguards, for Aboriginal children and young people. Similarly, the plan fails to offer any insight into program expansion within Ashley.”

Media contact: A.Mark Thomas, M&M Communications, 0422 006 732

An Aboriginal consultation strategy must be developed as a priority. The approach to Aboriginal community consultation in Tasmania appears to be ad hoc and limited, and many communities are not resourced to have a voice at the table

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