Evidence “shredded”: fresh Ashley scandal

August 23, 2022 6:07 pm in by

Prison pixabays

Senior management of a Tasmanian youth detention facility at the centre of sexual and physical abuse allegations have instructed staff to shred incident reports, an inquiry has been told.

Ashley Youth Detention Centre, which has operated for more than 20 years, is under the microscope as part of a commission of inquiry into child sexual abuse in state institutions.

Former detainees have told of being raped, physically abused and sexually assaulted by guards at the facility which has been described as having a culture of brutality.

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Psychologist Veronica Burton was from 2018-20 part of a team that reviewed serious incidents at the centre and provided recommendations.

She described centre management as “deliberately obstructive” when it came to providing documents.

Ms Burton said staff spoke of being bullied by senior management and “having their reports changed or being told to change their reports and shred the original”.

“Staff disclosed they were instructed to change minutes (of meetings),” she said.

Ms Burton said there was an electronic filing system but it wasn’t used and pretty much everything was paper.

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“The file keeping was so poor we often didn’t know which staff were involved and who we needed to speak to,” she said.

Ms Burton said an obvious sexual assault with a bottle on one male detainee by two other male detainees was not reported accurately in an internal briefing to the department.

She said trying to get the department of communities to understand the issues at Ashley was like banging her head against a brick wall.

“It was incredibly frustrating. There were four reviews I conducted … I was identifying similar or identical issues each time,” she said.

Ms Burton said the Serious Event Review Team was unexpectedly dissolved around the time she left her role.

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She said all her hard copy files and reports in relation to the centre went missing.

“When I made the decision to resign my position permanently, and became aware that there was some … interest about what was happening at the centre, I asked my colleague to get them … and they were gone,” she said.

Manager of Ashley, Stuart Watson, is expected to give evidence at the inquiry on Tuesday.