Lawyer to review state legal aid during abuse inquiry

A Victorian lawyer will investigate whether Tasmanian public servants who received legal help from the state during an inquiry into child sexual abuse acted in good faith.

The inquiry, which made 191 recommendations and 75 findings in its final report, found Tasmanian institutions too often responded inadequately to allegations or instances of abuse. 

It was told of system failings and horrific abuse over two decades in youth justice, education, health and out-of-home care.

There was a focus on the Ashley Youth Detention Centre, which was found to have a current risk of abuse, and a hospital where a pedophile nurse worked for about 20 years. 

The commission delivered findings against some public servants but said the laws it functioned under made it "difficult and, in some cases, impossible" to make all the findings it wanted to. 

Tasmania's government in October announced a review into whether public servants whose legal fees were covered by the state acted in "good faith" and whether they should pay back the money.

The state government says 26 individuals were granted legal assistance during the inquiry.

Attorney-General Guy Barnett on Monday announced family law specialist Sam Tatarka would conduct the review. 

Mr Barnett said the outcome of the review would be made public "as permitted by law".

A separate review into the Commissions of Inquiry Act was also announced in October. 

Opposition political parties, survivors and advocates have raised concerns public servants have escaped consequences as a result of the act's poor function. 

Guy Barnett
Guy Barnett has announced the head of a review into legal help given to public servants.

Labor opposition MP Ella Haddad criticised the government for moving too slowly after the release of the inquiry's final report in September. 

"There is no timeline for (the review) to be completed, removing another layer of accountability - which has been desperately lacking throughout the (inquiry) process," she said.

The state government has pledged to adopt all the abuse inquiry's recommendations, including setting up new youth justice facilities and closing Ashley by mid-2026.

The government previously promised the centre would be shut by the end of 2024.

Allegations of historical or contemporary child sexual abuse have been made against 74 former or current public servants since October 2020.

Code of conduct investigations have commenced against 72 public servants, with seven found to have breached the code and 24 cleared.

1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)

National Sexual Abuse and Redress Support Service 1800 211 028

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