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Independent Member for Clark, Andrew Wilkie, delivered the following speech to the Parliament. Please see above video for full speech.

“My community is horrified by the revelations of systemic abuse of young detainees at Ashley Youth Detention Centre. No wonder evidence of physical and sexual abuse, inhumane isolation practices, and strip and internal cavity searches of children has been condemned by Tasmania’s Children Commissioner, the Australian Human Rights Commissioner, Amnesty International and UNICEF, who are calling on the Tasmanian Government to close the Centre immediately.

“This matter is also receiving international attention, with the United Nations Committee against Torture just this week condemning the barbaric treatment of children in Ashley. Yet the State Government remains arrogantly steadfast in its plan to keep the Centre open for another two years. And frankly this is unconscionable.

“Equally unconscionable is how we continue to lock up kids as young as 10 against the advice of experts and principles of common morality. This puts us out of step with international human rights law and other western democracies, where the median age of criminal responsibility is 14.

“Frankly, children belong in school, with their families and in the community. Not locked behind bars where evidence shows they are at greater risk of trauma and future offending. To that end I call on federal, state and territory governments to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 14. And I call on the Tasmanian Government to progress the closure of Ashley immediately.”