Ashley Youth Detention Centre provides no therapeutical care and should have been closed long ago, says a lawyer who has worked with people imprisoned at the facility.
On average 15 children were held at the detention centre daily throughout 2020 but it is understood the number is less than that at the moment.
Odin Lawyers director Sebastian Buscemi said the centre dealt with kids in a very punitive way which showed little to no regard for their human rights.
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"There is no real access to psychological or psychiatric care which is what a lot of these kids desperately need and would solve a lot of their issues," he said.
"There is little to no education available to them and for the really small number of children who are actually sentenced there, as opposed to remanded at any given time, the amount of money that it costs to send the kids there is just not worth it.
"They could get far better access to care and help if the government put that money into providing it instead of running Ashley."
In 2016 a report produced for the government by Noetic Solutions detailed the poor outcomes Ashley provided for detainees.
The report made a number of recommendations aimed at improving outcomes - including closing the facility and replacing it with therapeutic centres.
The state government rejected that suggestion and instead announced a redevelopment of the facility - which was another of the options recommended by Noetic.
- Ashley Youth Detention Centre staff stood down after allegations
- Allegations of historic child sexual abuse at Ashley Youth Detention Centre
- Tasmanian detention centre employee worked during investigation over misconduct allegations, including rape
- Tasmania remains slowest off the mark to look into child protection concerns
- Liberals to keep Ashley Detention Centre open with major redesign and upgrade
Mr Buscemi believes the centre is a poor use of taxpayers' money and Greens Leader Cassy O'Connor agrees. She said data released by the Productivity Commission highlighted the human cost of the government's decision to ignore expert advice.
"[Productivity Commission] data confirms Tasmania has the highest injury rate as a result of assaults in custody of any jurisdiction. The rate of self-harm and attempted suicide, not requiring hospitalisation, at Ashley was 46.1 per 10,000 custody nights," she said.
"The Ombudsman's Annual Report this year also outlined the violent treatment of a child at Ashley, and we can be sure it wasn't an isolated incident. Ashley is a sick place and it needs to close.
"The at-risk young people in Ashley deserve a better shot at a good life."
Human Services Minister Roger Jaensch said the government was committed to improving Tasmania's youth justice system.
"We are investing more than $7 million towards redeveloping the Ashley Youth Detention Centre into a more contemporary facility that will complement a modern, therapeutic model of care," he said.
"The increase in incidents of self-harm not requiring hospitalisation in this year's [Productivity Commission] reporting is likely the result of an expansion of the types of incidents now captured by this indicator in this year's reporting, rather than an increase in those incidents."
Deputy leader of the opposition Michelle O'Byrne said the government picked the cheapest and easiest option from the Noetic report but wasn't progressing it in the way they needed to.
"We need a bigger investment in a different type of therapeutic care but also in ways to transition people away from the justice system," she said.
"There will always be a need for a facility to house those young people from whom society requires protection but they are normally a small amount.
"What we do know though is, because Ashley is there young people find themselves there more often then they should rather then better models."
Ms O'Byrne said the government should always be looking at more cost-effective to not only house young people who need to be in detention but also divert young people away from the justice system.
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