Alfie was an eight-year-old altar boy at the church attached to his orphanage in Queensland when Father Lance Flint gave him ‘holy wine’ and then fondled his genitals and performed oral sex on him. The abuse occurred many times to Alfie as well as to other boys, but none of them ever spoke about it.
The orphanage was the only home Alfie knew, having been placed there in the early 1950s at the age of three months. His brothers also lived there but they weren’t allowed to talk to or associate with each other. Alfie remembered a couple of ‘vicious nuns’, but thought most of them were nice.
‘I’ll be honest with you’, he said. ‘I’ve never blamed the nuns for anything, because I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for them. They put us through school. I became good friends with some of the nuns later on and I kept on going back to see them.’
When Alfie was 12 years old, he was sent to stay for the holidays with a couple, Ken and Anne Black. During the time he was there, he was sexually abused by Ken Black every day. At the end of the holiday, Alfie reported the abuse to two nuns and to the case manager from Queensland Children’s Services who he saw because he was a ward of the state. They all ignored his complaint and a permanent order was made for him to live with the Blacks.
At 15, Alfie ‘just had a gutful’ of the daily sexual abuse and he absconded from the Black household. As he stood on the highway hitchhiking, a boy he knew stopped to offer a lift. Alfie got in the car, not knowing it was stolen and before long the boys were stopped by Queensland Police. Alfie was sentenced by a court to six months in a boys’ reformatory centre, a place he said ‘was bad’.
One of the workers preyed on boys, making them fight each other and parade naked in the showers in front of him. He’d also arrange for them to come to his home when they were released and he’d sexually abuse them there. Physical abuse in the centre was also widespread and the only way Alfie got by, he said, was to play lots of sport, which helped in being left alone.
At the end of six months, Alfie left the centre, ‘a bit wild’. He took to the road, travelling between states until one day he decided he ‘couldn’t keep fighting the system’. He found work and over more than four decades enjoyed a satisfying career in the public service. He married and had children, and while his family knew that he’d been in the orphanage, he’d never told them about any of the abuse.
In the late 2000s, Alfie submitted a written statement outlining his experience in state care to the Forde Inquiry and he received two payments totalling $28,000.
The payment did nothing for him, he said, and only made him feel that everything he’d gone through was worth such a small amount of money. ‘I felt like it was a bit of blood money.’
Alfie wasn’t interested in reporting the abuse to the police nor contacting the Catholic Church. He has never sought counselling and didn’t think he would because he didn’t ‘want to keep talking about it all the time’. Contacting the Royal Commission was the first time he’d spoken of the abuse since his disclosure to the nuns in the 1960s.
‘I never want the abuse that we suffered to ever happen again. I would like children to be believed. I want any allegations to be properly investigated and children to not be dismissed or not have their views heard. If the Children’s Services Case Manager believed me and did not put me in the house with the Blacks, I would not have been sexually abused every day from the age of 12 until I was 15 or 16 years old …
‘There is not a day that goes by when I don’t think about the abuse. I think about being in the boys’ home and in the foster home and of the two men who hurt me. I want to make sure that I protect my children and make sure that what happened to me, never happens to anyone ever again.’