The Tasmanian government will review a youth intervention program based in the Northern Territory.
The “Many Colours One Direction Program” is delivered by the Brahminy Foundation.
Last week, the ABC reported allegations against the program’s founder Allan Brahminy.
The allegations include that children within the program are being mistreated, and that Mr Brahminy lied about being adopted by an Aboriginal family as a baby.
In a press conference last Friday, Tasmania’s minister for human services and Aboriginal affairs, Roger Jaensch, said his department was taking the allegations against the program “very seriously.”
“We will be following up (those allegations) as a matter of urgency,” he said.
“There are six young Tasmanians currently involved in that program, I can confirm that child safety staff have been in the NT, on the ground, meeting with those kids in the past few weeks.
“Those kids are safe and well, they are making really good progress in the program, and they want to stay there.
“Indeed we will be sending one of our senior managers up to the NT, as soon as we can, to be there on the ground to see for themselves, what's happening there,” Mr Jaensch said.
However, Mr Jaensch said the allegations that Mr Brahminy lied about his childhood would not be investigated as part of the review.
“I think those questions are best directed to Mr Brahminy,” he said.
The CEO of the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre, Heather Sculthorpe said she is “horrified” that the six Tasmanian children currently in the program are not being brought home, while the program is being reviewed.
“I'm not sure who decided that a bootcamp was the best way to treat what they're calling ‘the most troubled or troubled kids’, that wouldn't be our preference,” she said.
“That's not how we treat our kids. So the fact that (Mr Jaensch) is going to say, ‘everything's fine, my department tells me the kids are loving it’ ... well, it's not what the kids are saying. It's not what the families are saying. It's not what the community is saying.”
Ms Sculthorpe said the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre had asked Mr Jaensch to put one of their staff members on the team reviewing the program, but so far, they have not received a response to their request.
In a press release, the Tasmanian government said the “Many Colours One Direction Program” was independently reviewed back in 2017, and again in December 2019 by Tasmania’s Child Advocate “to ensure it is adequately meeting the needs of the young people who engage with it.”
The Tasmanian government said both reviews concluded that the program provided a safe environment for young people.
Tasmania’s Labor shadow sinister for child safety, Josh Willie, on Monday called for the Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein to sack Roger Jaensch.
“It is beyond time for this incompetent Minister to go. His position is untenable and if he won’t go voluntarily, the Premier must step up and sack him,” he said.
“We’re talking about vulnerable, young Tasmanian children in the Northern Territory.
“The State Government is essentially acting as a parent to these children and, while the allegations remain untested, it has a responsibility to bring them home."