In the mid-1940s, when Alastair was about six, he and a friend were waiting for a tram. He doesn’t remember where they were going, but does remember the conductor leading them into the bushes, and telling them to undress and simulate a sexual act.
‘He was standing there with his dick in his hand’, Alastair said.
Alastair and his friend grabbed their clothes and ran. As soon as he got home, he told his mother who then rang the police. Nothing more was done, and as far as Alastair knows, the perpetrator was ever identified.
At this time, Alastair and his siblings were attending an Anglican primary school in regional Victoria, even though their parents were not of the Anglican faith. Finding school challenging, and needing a way to deal with his father’s cruelty, Alastair would often disappear into the bush for several days at a time.
Alastair’s friends seemed to have a lot of fun on their scout excursions and camps, so he too became a scout when he was about 10. The scout leader was David Danes, a man in his early 40s who was also the minister of his church.
For two years, Alastair attended every scout meeting. He grew to like Danes and look to him as a leader.
‘I really looked up to this guy, he was a hero to me. All I wanted to be was a scout like him.’
However, Danes suddenly disappeared. Alastair doesn’t remember why, but the impact was devastating and everyone missed him.
Danes then sent Alastair a personal invitation to join him on a camp with his new scout troop. He arranged for Alastair and his friend to stay at his house for the weekend which made Alastair feel special.
‘He was lying on his bed with his pants off. He wanted to get us to play with him and very hesitantly we did … He was happy about that, it seemed, but I can remember thinking at the time that there was something wrong with this.’
Alastair and his friend were given a book about sex, which he couldn’t bring himself to read. The next day, he packed his bags and left. He said that Danes ‘was screaming abuse at me as I walked out the front gate. I just stuck out my thumb and hitched a ride on a timber truck.’
Danes was later moved to another area and never seen again. Even though he never spoke to his friend about Danes, or told anyone what had happened, he believes that his friend told a parent who then reported it to the Scouts.
Alastair completed his education and moved onto tertiary studies in another state.
Alastair first told his mother about the abuse when he was 18. He wasn’t sure what her reaction would be, but was pleased that she believed him. At the time, Alastair did not understand that Danes’ actions were a crime, and so didn’t report it to police. He didn’t mention it again for many decades.
In his adult years, Alastair chose a life of adventure because he wanted people to look up to him, but he often felt like a second-class citizen. Being betrayed by Danes, an adult he trusted, has affected his friendships and relationships. He has difficulty trusting others, and memories of the sexual abuse make him feel ashamed.
Alastair spoke to the Commissioner two years after he had told the rest of his family about the abuse. He wanted his story heard and believed, and never wants it to happen to another child.
‘This is the first time that I know of where somebody like me has got a chance to actually get the word out there and get something done about all this stuff. That’s why I [came].’