The Commissioner for Children and Young People Leanne McLean today welcomed the commitment made by the Tasmanian community sector that it stands ready to work with Government to plan safe and effective alternatives for children on remand at Ashley Youth Detention Centre.
“Now, we need our government to listen, and work collaboratively with the community organisations to provide care and accommodation for children who might otherwise be remanded in custody,” Ms McLean said.
“This requires bravery and determination.
“Almost all children in youth justice detention in Tasmania are currently on remand.
“This means they have not been sentenced by a court. A truly therapeutic approach to youth justice must include community-based alternatives to custodial remand for children and young people.
“The use of remand to “house” children lacking suitable accommodation must end immediately. It penalises children for a situation outside of their control, especially where they are under the care of the State.”
Ms McLean said it was also contrary to the legal principle that detention for children should only be used as a last resort.
“Real and lasting change requires a suite of innovative alternatives to ensure individualised, need-based, and effective responses for children in contact with the law.
“This should include small, home-like residential care with sustained therapeutic interventions and integrated child and family supports. “
Ms McLean recently provided formal advice to the Tasmanian Government on the age of criminal responsibility.
“The Advice included a recommendation that the Tasmanian Government commits to enhance, and appropriately resource, the service system to support the needs of children engaging in harmful behaviour.
“My advice, if implemented, would better promote and protect the rights and wellbeing of Tasmanian children and young people who exhibit harmful behaviour, and would improve community safety.
“The evidence is clear – when children’s rights are upheld, and their individual needs are met – harmful behaviour decreases.”