Alf and his wife, Dulcie, both grew up on a government-run Aboriginal mission in Queensland. They lived in the internal camp and later moved to separate dormitories away from their families.
Between the ages of eight and ten, Alf was sexually abused by three different men in the mission. It occurred several times. ‘I believe it happened before I went to the dormitory while we were still in the camp’, Alf said. ‘They were older than me, much older.’
Alf said the abuse happened in the bathrooms and dormitory as well as in the camp. ‘I had to, it was sort like, I was there to clean my teeth. I didn’t want to say anything. There was a moment when I was just alone, by myself in the toilets.’
He told the Commissioner he didn’t tell anyone about the abuse at the time or for many years afterwards. ‘I was brought up to the way, the religious way too, and it’s, I didn’t know what to do at the time. I was small.’
The first person he told was Dulcie, sometime after they married. ‘The way he acted and that’, Dulcie said, ‘I think he sort of, when he talk about it, he start crying, and I say, “Well, you got to get it out of your system, and thank you for telling me”. That was early ‘90s, he tell me.’
Alf said he became depressed, especially in his 30s, and drank a lot. He later gave up drinking and now has a strong belief in God. He and Dulcie both pray and sing, though Alf still gets upset to think about what the men did.
‘Sometimes when I come home, I find him crying’, Dulcie said. ‘I wait till he settle down before I ask him, “Why are you crying?”, and then he tells me and I say, “Let’s pray then”.’
Alf said he and some other elders now worked with young people, and he liked it. ‘I, at home, I do a bit of volunteering now and then, make sure children who are sniffing come and talk to us.’
Dulcie said they’ve had a happy life together. ‘He reckon I could have dumped him a long time ago, but I am glad I stayed with him because he is a good man, and he helps me with family and stuff. We are both support for one another.’
‘I’m really happy now’, Alf said. ‘I just worry about my brothers and sisters who have passed on.’