Alison grew up in suburban Perth, and started attending her local Catholic primary school in the early 1970s. When she was in Year 5 her teacher, Brother Martin, chose a dozen kids to go on camp with him – girls one week, boys another.
Alison’s mother was hesitant to let her go on this trip, but after a female teacher stated she would check in on the girls during the week, she agreed. However, this teacher did not ever come to see how they were going, and so the girls were left alone with Brother Martin.
‘My memories are waking up naked on his bed ... Comparison of female genitals with another girl. And being asked to remove other girls’ bathers when we were swimming ... That’s basically my memories.’ She also recalls that at the school some girls would stand behind Brother Martin during class and massage him while he carried out lessons, and this happened within view of other teachers.
After she returned home from camp, ‘I gave my sister, it’s not terribly inappropriate, but an inappropriate massage. And I also got her and a boy neighbour to be naked in a bed ... But I never spoke, or anything [about the abuse]’.
Her mother noticed changes in her behaviour, and went to talk to the school but Alison does not know the outcome of this contact.
She was in her late 20s when what had happened at the camp first came back to her. ‘You say “come back”, but it’s like it was all there in different files ... It was all there.’ She then told her mother what she had remembered about the camp. Her mother spoke to the police in an attempt to assist with reporting, but Alison never contacted them herself.
Throughout her life Alison has experienced anxiety, and has had issues with trust and substance addiction. She was subject to further sexual assaults, most of which she never reported.
She’d had several admissions to psychiatric facilities, but had never been asked about her childhood experiences. Before contacting the Royal Commission she had not engaged in counselling about the sexual abuse, but is now considering doing so.