Tasmania’s troubled Ashley Youth Detention Centre will be the focus of an inquiry into contemporary and historical child sexual abuse in state institutions.
Abuse allegations against detention centre staff were a catalyst for the commission of inquiry, which has previously been told of systemic failures to protect children in the health and education system.
The inquiry will on Thursday begin seven days of hearings into the detention centre and hear from two lived experience witnesses and youth justice workers.
Former detainee Brett Robinson has told the inquiry he was strip searched, hog-tied and continually belittled by staff after arriving at the centre as a 14 year old.
Counsel assisting the inquiry, Elizabeth Bennett SC, said a “concerning” number of staff had been stood down as a result of allegations by former detainees made through the National Redress Scheme.
“Some have been stood down since this commission commenced its work,” she told the inquiry in May.
She said other staff who had moved on to other positions, or left the state service, had been accused of failing to act appropriately in response to child sexual abuse, or of being abusers themselves.
The state government in September announced the detention centre would close by 2024. It has insisted all current detainees are safe.
More than 100 former detainees last week lodged a class action against the state government, alleging they were mistreated.
Ms Bennett said hearings would examine culture and oversight at the detention centre and why some staff were allowed to keep working despite repeated allegations about their conduct.
The inquiry, which will deliver a final report by May 2023, has been told of “catastrophic” failures that allowed a pedophile nurse to work for almost two decades on the children’s ward of the Launceston General Hospital.
James Geoffrey Griffin took his own life in 2019 after being charged with several child sexual offences.
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