About 15 years ago, Albert went back to the camp just west of Sydney that he used to visit regularly when he was in the Police & Citizens Boys Club. He parked his car outside and wandered around the grounds with a friend. He found the picture theatre and the main house where he’d been sexually abused but he didn’t go inside. It was eerie to be back there, he said.
A speech disability made talking almost impossible for Albert as a boy. He’d also spent a long time in hospital, so his parents, anxious for him to socialise more, suggested that he join the Police & Citizens Boys Club.
All these years later, Albert can conjure up a picture of his abuser quite easily. Ron Davies was a popular young volunteer at the camp. He took the 13-year-old Albert under his wing and gave him little gifts, such as cans of Coke.
Davies liked to invite Albert up into the projection booth of the little cinema when he was screening movies.
‘He used to get me to come up with him up in the projector box. After that it all started to happen … he had two high chairs, sitting up there looking through the little hole that showed the movies. He sat on one, and he got me up on the other one.
'He started to undress me. He would undo my pants and he’d undo his pants, and he would get my hand and put my hand on him, and he would put his hands all over me. And this happened several times. I can’t remember the number of times.’
Each time he went back to the camp, Albert was made to feel more and more special. One weekend, a boy came up to Albert and told him Davies wanted to see him up at the house.
‘I went up to the main house and … he was actually in the bathroom and I knocked on the door and I went in there and he’s in the bath … his penis was erect … and he wanted me to hop in the bath with him, he wanted me to put my hands all over him.
'And I felt horrible and I said to him, “I don’t like this” and he saw my whole reaction to him … He said, “Well don’t tell anyone or we’ll both be in trouble”.’
Davies ‘backed off’ after that and Albert can’t remember anything else happening. He was starting to go less frequently to the camp as he got older. He left school just before he turned 16, got a job, and never went back to the camp. He still went to the club in Sydney though. He was made a junior leader and helped with supervision of the kids.
He never told his parents about Davies. ‘I didn’t know if this type of thing was normal or what. You know? You just don’t know.’
‘I was very naive at the time and I didn’t know anything about sex or anything at all … I was very isolated as a child.’
Albert never noticed if Davies had other special friends who were singled out, and there was no talk among the other boys about him. However, a couple of things make Albert wonder about what people – especially the camp director who was a police officer – knew or didn’t know about Davies. How did the boy know that Davies wanted to see Albert? And was Davies already in the bath?
Also, once when Albert and Davies were coming down from the projectionist’s booth, Davies hadn’t done up his fly. ‘One of his colleagues ... pointed out that his fly was undone and everybody started laughing, so I don’t know.’
Albert didn’t tell anyone about the abuse until about five years ago. He thinks it had a minimal impact on his life but does say that the abuse is always with him. ‘I’ve got certain pictures in my childhood from when I was very young … and this is one of them. These pictures of what happened … are locked in.’
Albert told the Commission his story because he thought if others had an account of Davies it would help put a picture together. The police tried to find Davies but were unsuccessful.
Albert recommended that procedures and policies be put in place so that children are protected from misbehaviour or abuse.
He believes that the code of conduct and practices in the public service is excellent but that it should be applied more widely. ‘It needs to be in the family situation, it needs to be in charities, it need to be everywhere. Everybody needs to be respected as a person and not be used or abused. That’s probably my main thing.’
Also, disappointed by the fact that no one has been identified or held accountable for his abuse, Albert would like to see better record-keeping at places like the Police & Citizens Boys Club. Albert’s two merit awards are now his only proof that he was at the camp at all.