Reforming Youth Justice Mon 28 May 2012 Michelle O'Byrne Minister for Children The Minister for Children, Michelle O'Byrne, said the State Government is actively working to find alternatives to the Ashley Youth Detention Centre. Ms O'Byrne told an Estimates committee today that the State Government was looking at ways that new or expanded programs could help at-risk young people stay out of trouble and reduce the number in detention. "There will always be a need for a secure facility for a small number of our most serious young offenders," she said. "I believe a smaller, less expensive secure facility, combined with expanded investment in alternatives to detention would produce better outcomes for our young people and our community. "We have asked the Commissioner for Children Aileen Ashford to review the model of detention at Ashley and advise me of alternatives and diversionary programs." Ms O'Byrne said that the State Government had continually reviewed and improved the operation of Ashley over recent years - but there was only a limited number of improvements that could be made to the current infrastructure. "The Government has worked hard to reduce the number of young people going to Ashley and we will continue to drive those numbers down," she said. "We are continuing to look at every aspect of what we do at Ashley but this can't be done in isolation - we must factor in the full spectrum of strategies and services required to deliver preventative support programs for at-risk youth. "This includes alternatives to secure detention and any additional services that will assist in rehabilitating or deterring young people from offending behaviour. "Ashley is still providing a good service to the community and a suitable rehabilitation environment for detainees but we must move to a more up-to-date and efficient model. "The number of detainees in Ashley at any one time is generally falling, and we must remember that a significant number of those detained are also released on bail within 14 days." Ms O'Byrne said detention was a last resort and around 40 per cent of young people remanded to Ashley did not receive a custodial sentence - they were either released or given a community-based order. "It's important to emphasise that those young people who are currently remanded to Ashley are provided with support, access to programs, education and post-release help where possible," Ms O'Byrne said.