McClellan to lead Astill inquiry
In light of troubling new allegations, the NSW Government has appointed the Hon Peter McClellan AM KC to lead a special ministerial inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the offences committed by former NSW correctional officer Wayne Astill.
Mr Astill was charged in 2016 and convicted in 2023 for serious offences against inmates in his care.
Since his conviction, new allegations have been made against Mr Astill and the institutional response to his offending.
The inquiry has been established under section 82 of the Government Sector Employment Act 2013, which will give Mr McClellan’s inquiry the coercive powers of a Royal Commission to compel witnesses and seek evidence.
The inquiry’s terms of reference will include:
- whether any other employee of Corrective Services NSW had knowledge or suspicion of the offending, and what steps they took;
- the systems of supervision and oversight that applied in relation to Wayne Astill at Dillwynia Women’s Correctional Centre, their adequacy and how they should be improved;
- whether any matters arising from the inquiry should be referred to law enforcement or other agencies, and
- whether the circumstances related to Astill’s offending and the review’s findings require further consideration of broader site or case specific or Corrective Services NSW wide investigations.
The inquiry will report to government by 15 December 2023, or earlier if possible, and a report must be tabled in each House of Parliament within 30 sitting days of that House.
Minister for Corrections Anoulack Chanthivong said:
“Learning of Mr Astill’s crimes and the allegations made in the wake of his conviction has been deeply disturbing.
“I want to pay tribute to the bravery of Mr Astill’s victims in coming forward.
“Mr McClellan is the right person to lead this inquiry and I’m confident he has the powers he needs.
“We can’t afford to let anything risk other ongoing investigations, so we’ve been careful in designing the scope and format of this inquiry.
“We owe it to the overwhelming majority of Corrective Services officers doing the right thing to ask ourselves the hard questions, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”