Adib was born into a very troubled family in the early 1980s. His parents were physically abusive, particularly his ‘extremely violent’ father who suffered from a mental illness, and who had migrated to Australia from a war-torn Middle Eastern country.
In the 1990s, when Adib was about 10, he told a person at his primary school that violence was a normal part of his home life. Adib and his siblings were then placed into a series of hostel and home care placements.
Adib said that he could never settle after that because ‘I was in and out of my house, back home, hostel, family group home, back home – just in and out, in and out, in and out’.
‘There wasn’t much care involved in these placements ... I had been abused at home … and now I was abused in the environment I was supposed to be cared for.’ He felt ‘abandoned’ by the authorities.
When he was about 12, a staff member at a hostel in suburban Melbourne sexually abused Adib on at least two occasions. Looking for cannabis, the staff member took Adib into a room in which he felt intimidated, and then strip-searched and molested him. Adib couldn’t remember the names of either the worker or the hostel, but he did see the perpetrator again when they went on to work in the court system.
Having been bashed, and having seen other children hurt from being bashed, Adib began to ‘rebel’. Introduced to older children in care who were already seasoned criminals, he changed from ‘a very good kid, a lovely boy’ into a thief and drug abuser.
He left school in his early teens, and started smoking cannabis and drinking alcohol. By the time he left care in his mid-teens, he had used ice, speed and cocaine, as well as heroin which he later became addicted to. He was also ‘stealing cars, robbing houses’.
Now in his 30s, Adib has spent about a decade of his life in juvenile detention and adult prisons, mainly for offences related to stealing in order to obtain drugs. He is currently in prison where he receives methadone and anti-psychotic medication.
Adib’s first disclosure of child sexual abuse was to the Royal Commission. He came forward because he wants to help other children in his situation, and to recommend that institutions that care for children not be ‘run like the prison system’.
He would like to see an end to six and 12 hour on-call staff shifts, as well as the scrapping of the policy of locking children out between 9 am and 3.30 pm every day. He believes that staff background checks should be mandatory, that younger children should not be placed with older children who have criminal pasts, and that social workers must have real experience in working with children, not just ‘textbook’ learning.
These days, Adib tries not to think about the sexual abuse he experienced. ‘It gets to me usually when I’m outside and that, and I’ll start using drugs.’
Any compensation would not replace the lack of family support he has outside of the jail system, or the fact that his siblings have suffered a similar fate.
‘My life’s that bad at the end of the day there’s not much that can make it any better … How can you compensate that?