Rape, genital torture: Abuse claims from Tassie prison
CHILD abuse at the Ashley Youth Detention Centre didn't just occur in the deep, dark past - according to a lawyer preparing a class action for potentially 100 former inmates.
On Tuesday, it was revealed that legal proceedings could soon be lodged for former detainees alleging an array of abuse including extended periods of solitary confinement, inappropriate strip searching, sexual assault, and burning cream applied to their genitals.
Lawyer Sebastian Buscemi is now waiting for any other former detainees to come forward before expected court action later this year.
Human Services Minister Roger Jaensch has now responded to the news by claiming the allegations only dealt with a "a period of history up to about 10 years ago".
"These days, the Ashley Youth Detention Centre is part of a statewide therapeutic youth justice system and we are taking a lot of trouble investing considerable resources converting it into a fit-for-purpose therapeutic youth justice facility," he said.
But Mr Buscemi said he'd received allegations from former detainees who'd recently left Ashley.
"Whether the same systemic issues exist is difficult to say but to say there are no allegations stemming from Ashley other than historic is inaccurate," he said.
"They span a number of decades. The majority of them fall within the late 80s to early 2000s but they stretch from the 70s right up until recently."
Mr Buscemi said many former detainees claimed that in the late 1980s and early 1990s, they were put in isolation for extended periods of time - often with a burning scabies cream applied to their genitals on admission.
"(Solitary confinement) was used for punishment. It was used under the guise of safety more than it was genuinely used for safety," he said.
"It's only (recommended to be) healthy and safe to put them in there as much as it prevents them from doing immediate harm to themselves or someone else, but if there's any need for them to be removed for an extended period, then it's better to remove them to alternative accommodation rather than remain in solitary confinement."
He said other former detainees said they were kept in relative isolation - with no exposure to other young people their own age - for months at a time.
Mr Buscemi also said some former detainees said they had been sexually assaulted or raped inside the facility.
Originally published as Rape, genital torture, isolation: Abuse claims from Ashley prison