Ashley centre alternative

Ashley centre alternative

September 2016 | Hayley Manning

AFTER VIEWING disturbing images from inside Darwin’s Don Dale Detention Centre, the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has ordered a royal commission into its youth justice system.

But recent ‘unacceptable’ incidents closer to home at Ashley Youth Detention Centre, on the outskirts of Deloraine, have politicians insisting the royal commission extend its probe Australia wide.

The Tasmanian government’s current $5.3 million commitment to an early intervention program that provides alternatives to youth incarceration is reflected in the significant reduction of offenders completing custodial sentences at Ashley.

However, Butterfly House Drug Rehabilitation founder, Jennie Wilson, said the Ashley facility was now “heavily under-utilised”, with 66 staff and an estimated annual running cost of $8.6 million.

“Tasmania urgently needs a non-denominational, residential treatment centre to provide an evidence-based, holistic program, that is accessible, affordable, and tailored to suit each person’s individual needs,” she said.

Mr Trevor Reeve, Program Supervisor of the North-West Salvation Army Bridge Centre, said it made economic sense to convert the existing Ashley centre – with a 51 bed capacity – into a therapeutic, rehabilitation centre.

“Ashley is already accepted by the community where it is; as it is, therefore any ‘not in my backyard’ concerns should be limited,” he said.

In addition, Mr Reeve said its central location would make it easier to source and retain professional staff, with an added bonus of less travel times.

According to Rural Health Tasmania, there are an estimated 25,600 ‘ice users’ in Tasmania, but the number of residential treatment facilities with recovery beds has remained the same for years.