Kids' advocate hits power limit

Written By miftah nugraha on Sabtu, 13 April 2013 | 19.55

TASMANIA'S Commissioner for Children, Aileen Ashford, has left her post, calling for more support for Tasmania's young people.

Repeating the concerns of past commissioners, Ms Ashford called for her role to have greater powers.

She said yesterday she would leave in June, five months short of her three-year contract, to take a role as the chief executive of the Child Protection Society in Victoria.

"There is a misconception that the Commissioner for Children is powerful," Ms Ashford said.

"But the powers of the role are very limited. There is no inquiry without permission from the minister."

Ms Ashford is the latest high-profile government-appointed leader to leave the state.

Risdon Prison boss Barry Greenberry resigned earlier this month little over a year into his five-year contract.

Labor was rocked late last month when the head of the Treasury Department, Martin Wallace, announced he would step down from the role after the State Budget in May.

Ms Ashford called for the State Government to establish a youth portfolio and give future commissioners five-year terms.

"The Government does not have a youth policy," she said.

"We have a lot of emphasis on the early years but we seem to have missed kids eight years and up.

"Three years is not a very long time to enact change."

Ms Ashford said a new model for the Ashley Detention Centre also needed to be established.

"I'd like to see a different Ashley," she said, referring to the state's only youth detention centre, based in northern Tasmania.

"There will always be a place for detention.

"But when you talk to the kids it is too far away to have families and friends visit.

"The state needs a bail support system for the very small percentage of Tasmanian youth who end up in trouble with the law."

Ms Ashford thanked her staff and said the best part of the job was being able to talk to young people.

She said education and having jobs to go to were major concerns for youth.

She said education was the key to helping kids escape a cycle of poverty.

Children's Minister Michelle O'Byrne thanked Ms Ashford for her time in the role.

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