A former detainee claims he was sexually, mentally, and violently abused while in custody at Ashley Youth Detention Centre.
The Northern Tasmanian man, who cannot legally be named, was sent to the facility when he was 11 and said he was housed with criminals as old as 23.
Now, he's threatening to take the state government to court.
"I was a child, locked away with savages," he said.
"When I first went there, there was upwards of 80 kids, and no cameras on site.
"There were just massive problems in terms of providing a safe place for children. Back then, it was run by families, and anyone who worked there it wasn't just them, it was their wife, their brother, their cousin working there too - there was no accountability."
He claimed he was bashed and raped, and subjected to physical and psychological trauma during his time at the facility, roughly between 2001 and 2007.
While many of his fellow detainees have since accepted funds through the National Redress Scheme, the alleged victim rejected the offer from the Tasmanian government.
"I know about a dozen people from Ashley who accepted about $100,000," he said.
"But you have to sign a waiver, which stops you from taking any further action against the institutions."
Seeking out Sydney-based law firm O'Brien Criminal and Civil Solicitors, the man sent a letter of demand to the state government.
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Principal lawyer Peter O'Brien said his client was not only seeking more significant financial compensation, but a statement of regret and an apology.
"It is a really disturbing and distressing set of circumstances, with claims of some very serious historic sexual and physical abuse," he said.
"A statement of regret, and an apology, would be helpful to bring some healing, and hopefully some closure to those who have suffered abuse as a child."
Still awaiting a response from the government, Mr O'Brien said it would "be in everyone's interest to have swift settlement of these sort of matters, and to avoid court disputes".
"When someone summons up the courage to come forward and say I was abused as a child, then the government has a responsibility to not only take it seriously, but to deal with it as swiftly as possible," he said.
The case also comes alongside a separate class action involving more than 100 former Ashley detainees who allege they were physically abused, isolated, restrained, and excessively strip-searched at the facility.
Hobart-based lawyer Sebastian Buscemi said the majority of complainants were detained at the centre in the 1990s and 2000s, but some were in custody as recently as last year.
The average age of those abused while in custody was 10 to 13, with the youngest being nine, Mr Buscemi said.
"We started getting referrals through the Royal Commission, and a lot of those were to do with Ashley," he said.
"We opened an office in Hobart in mid-2018, and we started getting more and more of those referrals.
"It became pretty clear that a lot had happened, and was happening, at Ashley. There are a lot of unanswered questions about how and why this happened."
While he had also received reports of sexual abuse at the facility, Mr Buscemi said those clients were advised to proceed with individual claims, rather than the class action, which would focus on the allegations of physical abuse.
Prisoner advocate Greg Barns said it was "inevitable" the state would continue to see claims brought forward against Ashley, and also Risdon Prison.
"We had a Royal Commission, and now is the time to focus on the blind eye our community has collectively turned, for generations, to the abuse that has occurred within the Tasmanian youth justice system and adult institutions," the Prisoners Legal Service of Tasmania chairman said.
"Lawyers in Tasmania need to ensure ex-prisoners, and ex-detainees from Ashley are well represented."
As of August 5 this year, 185 claims had been made to the Tasmanian Government through the National Redress Scheme, with more than $11.3 million handed out so far.
When questioned about whether any of the claims related to Ashley or Risdon Prison, a Justice Department spokesman said "the Tasmanian government is unable to provide details of institutions named in applications due to the information protection requirements of the National Redress Scheme".
The spokesman said it would also not be appropriate to comment on pending legal proceedings.
- Sexual Assault Counselling Australia is available 24 hours on 1800 211 028.
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