A man who says he was physically and sexually assaulted at Ashley Youth Detention Centre over a period of five years will take on the Tasmanian government in the state's Supreme Court.
"They put me in a secure unit with a monster who would sexually abuse me," the man said.
"They ruined my life."
His statement to the Supreme Court claimed a harrowing account of repeat instances of sexual and physical abuse, starting in the late 1980s and ending in the early 1990s, that led to ongoing mental illness and substance and alcohol abuse.
"I was just a kid," he said.
Thirty years later it is still as painful as ever.The man who claims he was sexually and physically abused at Ashley
The man, who cannot legally be named, claimed during his multiple stints in the correctional facility he was made to perform sex acts upon Ashley workers and other detainees.
During three of those five years he was a ward of the state of Tasmania, meaning the then Community Welfare Department was responsible for his welfare.
The claim said he was forced by Ashley staff members to perform oral sex acts upon them and other boys "on a weekly basis".
It said he was also physically assaulted by other inmates and staff members, including being struck across the head, hit with keys and left in isolation and without food for up to two days at a time.
The man claimed on one occasion he chose to speak up about the abuse to a senior detention centre worker who "did not accept the complaints".
The alleged victim claimed after the worker did not believe him, he started verbally abusing them, which led to him being "beaten severely" by another member of the staff.
"They knew what was going on," he said.
"I tried to complain once. I was beaten up ... then thrown back into the secure unit."
I tried to complain once. I was beaten up ... then thrown back into the secure unit.The man who claims he was sexually and physically abused at Ashley
Ashley was a subject of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse which began in 2012.
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The facility was also part of the National Redress Scheme which provided support to people who experienced institutional child sexual abuse. It started on July 1, 2018 and will run for 10 years.
As of March 26 this year the scheme had received 10,005 applications, with 5218 payments being issued totalling $439.5 million.
As of Thursday the Tasmanian government had received 568 claims in relation to state government institutions. From those claims, more than $23 million of payments had been made to applicants who were abused in Tasmanian government institutions.
The controversial facility was also indicted in this year's Commission of Inquiry into the Tasmanian Government's Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Institutional Settings.
Submissions to the commission were extended after 60 were received in the first fourth months of them being received.
The man who chose to pursue action against the Tasmanian Government over alleged Ashley abuse did so through Victorian-based legal firm Arnold Thomas & Becker. The firm's lawyer Joseph Ridley issued the statement of claim on July 19 this year.
"The nature of the abuse experienced by our client was extensive and horrific," Mr Ridley said.
The writ, issued to the state government, is believed to be the first case in relation to abuse that occurred at the youth detention centre to reach this stage of proceedings.
It claimed a Tasmanian Task Force on Child Sexual Abuse compiled a report to the Community Service Minister in November 1989 stating children at Ashley may be at risk of physical and sexual abuse.
"The department knew, or should have known, that children were being abused or were at risk of abuse within institutions managed and operated by the State of Tasmania," Mr Ridley said.
Mr Ridley said the legal action against the government was a landmark moment for survivors of abuse that occurred at the detention centre.
The writ claimed extensive failings by the departments responsible for the facility led to failures to respond to complaints of physical and sexual abuse, communicate complaints to the department director, undertake investigations into the conduct of detention centre staff and to provide adequate systems of welfare supervision for children detained at Ashley.
In August last year a class action investigation launched into abuse at the facility received responses from more than 100 people.
Mr Ridley said, while class actions had their merit, individual action against the government was the best way forward for the man.
He said, should the claim be successful, compensation had the potential to dwarf amounts received as part of the National Redress Scheme.
"Our experience in Victoria shows that compensation amounts paid out to abuse survivors from other institutions have consistently been over $1 million and, more recently, over $2 million for an individual case", Mr Ridley said.
"Whilst compensation will not take away the pain of what has happened, it does provide our clients with some financial security following a life impacted by the abuse."
A government spokesperson said they were unable to comment specifically on individual matters subject to current legal action.
According to the legalities of the writ, if the government disputed any of the mans claims, or wished to take part in the action, it had to respond within seven days.
"The Tasmanian Government takes the safety of children extremely seriously and there is nothing more important than ensuring the vulnerable in our community are protected," the government spokesperson said.
"To this end, we continue to support all survivors of historical child sexual abuse."
Sexual assault supports:
- 1800 RESPECT
- Sexual Assault Support Service 1800 697 877.
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