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«DHHS Review: Ashley Youth Detention Centre September 2005 Acknowledgements The Review Team wishes to acknowledge the support and assistance provided ...»

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for the Secretary DHHS


Resident Safety

Ashley Youth Detention Centre


DHHS Review: Ashley Youth Detention Centre

September 2005


The Review Team wishes to acknowledge the support and assistance provided by the

staff of the Ashley Youth Detention Centre (AYDC) and the AYDC Learning Centre

during the Review period.

Special acknowledgement must also be given to the residents, staff and service

providers who provided input and comment to contribute to the Review process.


DHHS Review: Ashley Youth Detention Centre September 2005 Contents Executive Summary _________________________________ 4 Forward___________________________________________ 7 Background________________________________________ 9 Review Methodology _______________________________ 15 Input from residents and staff _________________________ 17 Findings _________________________________________ 31 Summary of Recommendations _______________________ 39 Additional Recommendations ________________________ 42 Appendix ‘A’ _____________________________________ 43 Appendix ‘B’ _____________________________________ 52 Appendix ‘C’ _____________________________________ 54 ________________________________________

DHHS Review: Ashley Youth Detention Centre September 2005 Executive Summary At the request of the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, a Review Team was established to examine the systems and protocols currently in place at Ashley Youth Detention Centre. In particular, the Review Team was asked to assess the ability of these systems and protocols to ensure the ongoing safety and well

being of the residents. The specific brief included a review of:

The current systems, including Standard Operating Procedures and practices, to minimise the potential for abuse towards residents, by other residents or staff;

The current systems and environment for encouraging the reporting of allegations of abuse; and The adequacy and timeliness of the response systems when an allegation of abuse is received and the environment in which these responses are undertaken.

The Review Team agreed to accept input and information from a range of selfnominated stakeholders. Both verbal and written participation was invited from residents, former residents, staff and service providers. The Review Team met with staff and residents at the AYDC site on Tuesday 30 August 2005 and Thursday 1 September 2005 respectively. They further met with a number of AYDC staff in Hobart on Wednesday 7 September 2005. Written submissions were accepted up until Tuesday 20 September 2005.

A broad range of comments were received from a selection of self-nominated staff, residents and service providers. All stakeholders involved in the Review process contributed in a positive manner. In considering the input from all sources, the Review Team drew the conclusion that there were 5 fundamental themes to the information that was provided.

–  –  –

These themes were:

There was information that a varying level of intimidation and violence between residents has occurred at AYDC. The extent to which this can be minimised is reliant on having appropriate structures and processes in place at the site.

Originally AYDC was a boys home for youth 16 years and younger, and operated under a specific staff regime relevant to that cohort. Following significant legislative, structural and practice changes, AYDC now functions as a Juvenile Detention Centre for both males and females between the ages of 10 and 18 years, with day to day operational staff being primarily Youth Workers. The staffing model and operating practices at the site have altered to respond to the current needs and requirements of the client group. The structure must also assure an appropriate level of support for both staff and residents.

With the gender mix and a diverse range of age groups, backgrounds and personalities in residence at AYDC, it is important to assure equity and to provide a consistent and supportive level of treatment and opportunity for the residents.

The nature of the AYDC facility and its use have evolved, resulting in some unintended consequences.

It is important that AYDC has well documented and effective procedures to deal with incidents and complaints and that residents and staff have confidence in the system.

For the purpose of this report, comments received from participants in the Review, findings made by the Review Team, and Recommendations have all been grouped under these broad headings.

–  –  –

This report details a series of findings made by the Review Team, and a list of recommendations ranging from structural, procedural, practice, statutory, staffing and programs.

–  –  –

Forward Following reports to the Department and in the media of alleged assaults on two Ashley Youth Detention Centre (AYDC) residents by other AYDC residents, the Secretary DHHS requested a review be undertaken to determine the robustness of relevant systems and protocols at the Centre, and the ability of these systems and protocols to ensure the ongoing safety and wellbeing of residents.

The Minister also wrote to the Secretary of the Department, seeking an internal report

that detailed:

Investigations into the staff actions relating to the alleged assaults, the findings a) of these investigations, and any recommendations arising;

A summary of the police actions, including charges and outcomes of these b)

–  –  –

Details of the support provided to the alleged victims;

c) Details of provisions made to ensure the ongoing safety of the victims and of d) future residents of Ashley; and Any other issues relevant to these incidents.

e) In addition to the matters requested to be reviewed by the Secretary, it was agreed that the Review would address items ‘c’, ‘d’, and ‘e’ of the Minister’s request as referred to above. Items ‘a’ and ‘b’ were to be dealt with under a separate process.

The purpose of the Review was to look at:

The current systems, including Standard Operating Procedures and practices, to minimise the potential for abuse towards residents, by other residents or staff;

–  –  –

The current systems and environment for encouraging the reporting of allegations of abuse; and The adequacy and timeliness of the response systems when an allegation of abuse is received and the environment in which those responses are undertaken.

It was agreed that a report providing the findings of the Review and any other issues and recommendations considered appropriate by the Review Team, would be provided to the Secretary, DHHS, and that the timeframe for the presentation of this report would be by the end of September 2005, contingent on the availability of relevant information from external parties.

The Review Team consisted of the Commissioner for Children (Mr David Fanning), who holds an independent statutory office, together with two senior Departmental officers (Ms Vicki Rundle, Executive Director Children and Families and Mr Paul Targett, Executive Director Corporate Services).

It was agreed that secretariat support and other resources would be made available to the Review Team, and additional members could be co-opted as required to fulfil the terms of reference.

It was further decided that, in the event that the Review Team could not reach agreement on some aspects contained in the report to the Secretary, any member of the Review Team could have included in the report details of their differing views.

Unless otherwise specified, this report represents the views and recommendations of all members of the Review Team.

–  –  –


AYDC Profile:

Ashley Youth Detention Centre (AYDC) is the only youth detention centre in Tasmania providing a secure facility for males and females between the ages of 10 and 18 years, who offend, or are alleged to have offended, and are remanded or sentenced by the Courts. For the purposes of this report the term “resident” is used to describe both remandees and detainees, who are confined for a period of time to the AYDC facility.

AYDC is a 51 bed facility, consisting of five accommodation units – Bronte North, Bronte West, Liffey, Huon and Franklin. Bronte North is a 9 bed unit and is generally utilised to accommodate lower security male residents, often closer to the end of their period of confinement. Bronte West is a 6 bed unit used exclusively for female residents. Liffey is also a 6 bed unit and is used for male residents, generally those of a younger age and/or who might be vulnerable if accommodated in one of the other units. Huon is a 15 bed unit utilised for males in the early to middle period of their confinement, and for new admissions. Franklin, which has a separate secure yard attached to it, is also a 15 bed unit and is used for male residents, generally those of a higher security rating. No separation is made between residents on remand and those on detention.

The role of AYDC is governed by the Youth Justice Act 1997, which was proclaimed in February 2000. Consistent with the Youth Justice Act, AYDC has 3

broad objectives:

• To provide a safe and secure environment for young people on detention;

• To contribute to community safety and confidence; and

• To provide opportunities for the rehabilitation and reintegration of young offenders.

–  –  –

Central to meeting these objectives is AYDC’s physical environment, its organisational structure and staffing levels, its systems and procedures, together with the programs and services that are offered on site that seek to address the causes of residents’ offending behaviour. These programs and services are also offered to residents on remand.

The AYDC environment is also influenced by the Australasian Juvenile Justice Administrators Standards for Juvenile Custodial Facilities (AJJA Standards), which incorporates relevant United Nations standards and provides a benchmark for service provision and the treatment of young offenders. Tasmania is a signatory to these Australasian standards.

The profile of the AYDC client group changed significantly with the proclamation of the Youth Justice Act 1997. The Act raised the age for youth who can be held at AYDC from 16 years to 17 years of age. Governing legislation requires that it is only in exceptional circumstances that offenders under the age of 18 years can be accommodated in the adult prison system administered by the Department of Justice.

Residents at AYDC are involuntary clients who are either on remand pending determination of their charges, or who have been sentenced to a period of detention.

The diversionary nature of the Youth Justice Act 1997 means detention is intended to be used only as a last resort. For the most part, residents of AYDC are the more serious offenders who commonly have exhausted alternative sentencing options.

There are, however, some residents on remand at AYDC, who are there as much for reasons such as a lack of accommodation than for their offences. In many cases, residents of AYDC also present with significant co-morbidities. Some have illicit drug addictions, challenging behaviours or mental health issues, which require specialist and generic interventions on site, within a secure environment.

–  –  –

Both the number of admissions and the daily average number of residents at AYDC have been increasing in recent times. There were several months in 2004/05 where the number of residents on site was in excess of 40. Figures from the past 3 years

are shown in the table below:

–  –  –

AYDC functions 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Its operational staffing structure is a rotational one and consists of one night shift (during which there is 1 Team Leader and 5 Youth Workers on duty) and 3 day time shifts. Reflecting a staffing ratio of 1 staff member to every 3 residents (3:1), each of the 3 day shifts normally comprise 3 Team Leaders and 9 Youth Workers (12 operational staff in total to supervise the residents). In addition to these staff, each of the 3 day shifts has 1 Operations Worker, who is in charge of the shift, and 1 Admissions Officer. Team Leaders and Youth Workers are allocated to the various units in a manner consistent with the 3:1 ratio, dependent upon the number of residents in each unit at the time.

Franklin and Liffey share 1 of the 3 Team Leaders per shift. Where the number of residents on site exceeds 36, the number of operational staff is increased to maintain the 3:1 ratio.

AYDC Systems and Procedures:

Day to day operational decision making and practice at AYDC is governed by a series of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) developed for that purpose.

There are SOPs in place that cover topics as diverse as kitchen utensils and cutlery, and admissions processes. Many of the SOPs are constructed specifically to minimise the potential for abuse towards residents. Included amongst these are the SOPs relating to Critical Incident Reporting, Response and Duress, Searches, Supervision and Movement of Detainees, Use of Force, and Observation.

–  –  –

A Behaviour Development Program (BDP) is in place at AYDC. The BDP is constructed in a way that encourages appropriate behaviour and holds the residents responsible for inappropriate behaviour, including assaultive behaviour. Residents learn that they can make choices about their behaviour, and that those choices may lead to consequences for them that are either rewarding or produce sanctions.

The BDP comprises two schemes designed to support positive behaviour and manage negative behaviour – the Incentive Scheme and the Incident Management Scheme (detailed in SOPs 15 and 16 respectively). The Incident Management Scheme includes Minor Incidents (MIs) and Detention Centre Offences (DOs).

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