Three staff at the Ashley Youth Detention Centre have been stood down following the referral of "historical allegations" to police, with one of them facing a rape accusation.
Greens leader Cassy O'Connor raised the matter in State Parliament yesterday, saying that one staff member in particular was the subject of "hundreds of claims" in a civil action, had been stood down last week and had their Working with Vulnerable Children registration revoked.
After Question Time, Human Services Minister Roger Jaensch issued a statement saying that three Ashley staff members had been stood down.
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"An independent investigation is now underway, in addition to the police referral," he said. "The government needs to allow this process to take its course before commenting further."
"The safety of children and young people in our care is of paramount importance and we take all allegations very seriously."
Last year, a report by Tasmania's Custodial Inspector revealed security deficiencies at the detention centre and raised concerns about the use of force on detainees. Meanwhile, about 120 people have joined a class action against the government over alleged abuse at Ashley.
"There are many unknowns with this situation," Ms O'Connor said of the recently aired allegations. "We don't have the information to tell us when these alleged incidents and the alleged rape took place. We don't know when it was first brought to the attention of the government and Communities Tasmania."
Laywer Sebastian Buscemi, who said he had been contacted by more than 100 former Ashley detainees, referred allegations relating to physical and sexual abuse at the detention centre over the course of several decades to Communities Tasmania and Children's Commissioner Leanne McLean in August.
Mr Buscemi discussed the allegations on an episode of a podcast hosted by journalist Camille Bianchi, released last week. He said the independent investigation had only been launched after the podcast came out. "It's about time Tasmanians know why it is that this has gone on for so long," he said.
Ms McLean said she had referred the allegations to Tasmania Police and Communities Tasmania after she became aware of them and she was now receiving regular updates from the department.
A Communities Tasmania spokesperson said the department couldn't comment on individual employee matters that "could be the subject of legal proceedings, or matters under investigation", while a spokesperson for Tasmania Police said police were assisting the department with its internal investigation. "At this stage, no formal complaint has been received," the spokesperson said.
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