DESPITE his ice addiction, despite his violent outbursts, Linda Evans still thinks of her 15-year-old son as her baby.
Which is why the Campbell Town mother will always fight for what she thinks is best for him. She knows kicking him out on the streets, which she has previously been forced to do due to a lack of services and a need to protect her other children, is not it.
Ms Evans believes Ashley Youth Detention Centre is the ideal place to rehabilitate children and teens living with drug addiction. The 51-bed facility has an average occupancy of 10 offenders.
“Youth Justice is doing everything they can, Child Protection is doing everything they can, the magistrates are doing everything they can, but it’s not enough – those kids are out on the street,” she said.
“The detention centre, already being fully staffed, would be the perfect place to put them. Why can’t we have that resource?”
The government’s Youth At Risk Strategy has seen Noetic Solutions contracted to develop an options paper on the Ashley site.
“There will always be a need for a custodial youth detention facility in Tasmania, but at the same time we need to ensure that the future delivery of youth detention services at Ashley is based on a therapeutic environment, and one that is conducive to changing behaviours and addressing the specific needs of the young person,” a Department of Human Services spokesman said.
Teen Challenge Western Australia executive director Malcolm Smith said Tasmanian children and teenagers were being sent to the organisation’s WA, Queensland and Victorian facilities due to a lack of local services.
Children’s Commissioner Mark Morrissey agreed there was a need for a government-run drug and alcohol rehab designed especially for young people in Tasmania.
“The location of such a rehabilitation centre would be a matter for government and indeed, the broader community to consider,” he said.
An emotional Ms Evans said she had spoken with other parents who were similarly frustrated with the system. One Hobart mother spends each night driving the streets of the city looking for her children, she said.
“I’m so angry, I’m so frustrated, I’ve shed so many tears over it,” she said.
“I’m not going to sit back and watch my son dwindle himself into a grave because no one will do anything.”
A spokesman said the Tasmanian Health Service funded a range of services for young people with drug and alcohol-related problems, including outreach workers in the North and South, accommodation in the North-West and funds for the Salvation Army, Headspace, Burnie’s Youth Family Community Connections and the Launceston City Mission.