‘It’s the most horrific place being locked up down in those cells, down the bottom in the dark – very dim light for hours on end. And then being molested there as well, you know what I mean, when I was a child, making you do things that you didn’t want to do.’
Alo became a ward of the state and from an early age, lived in many different institutions throughout Queensland. In each of them he experienced physical abuse but in the De La Salle boys’ home he entered as a 13-year-old, he was also sexually abused by Brother Seamus, a violent man who often made boys fight each other.
One weekend, Alo’s brother came to visit and Brother Seamus caught the two boys smoking a cigarette. ‘He took me to the office and he had a thick leather strap about that thick, right’, Alo said. ‘He made me pull down my pants and flogged me. My arse was black and blue, I’m telling you. From smoking. And that’s where he must have got the idea to take me up into his room and molest me. I was only 13.’
Not long after being strapped, Brother Seamus woke Alo one night, took him to his room and forced him onto the bed. ‘He tried to put it in but he climaxed before he actually got it in which, thank God, you know what I mean? From then on, he put me in the boxing ring every Friday night to get my head punched, to carry me down. Once I beat one fella he put me in a ring against another one until I gave in.’
Moving constantly between institutions and encountering violence in each one, Alo didn’t feel safe enough to tell anyone in authority about the abuse. He did disclose it to his mother when he was with her briefly, but she didn’t know what to do and thought no one would believe or listen to her.
Alo told the Commissioner that he absconded from the boys’ home numerous times until he was eventually sent to a juvenile justice facility. He was deeply mistrustful of police and as an adult spent time in jail. He tried not to think about the abuse by Brother Seamus and ‘just move on with life’.
‘I didn’t want to tell anybody. I got to the point where I tried to commit suicide then I told the mental health service in my 30s.’
As a result of his disclosure, Alo was interviewed by Queensland Police who told him that although Brother Seamus was still alive, he was elderly and ill and they wouldn’t be proceeding with charges.
Alo hasn’t pursued a civil claim and is reluctant to do so after seeing the negative experience of his brother, who was also in state care, and who had applied for and been denied compensation.
He reunited with his mother and brother in later life and tries to help others in the community using some of the skills he picked up through further education courses. He is on the disability support pension and doesn’t have many close relationships. ‘I’m not married. I haven’t got a wife. I haven’t got children so you know, I’m all by myself. I been lonely for 16 years without companionship.’
Alo said that what had kept him going through his life was a faith in God. ‘He’s the only one that stuck up for me when things were really bad. We belong to him so he’s with us 100 percent. He’s the only one that’s stayed with me and he looked after us, you know what I mean? We never used to have much – like this is going back years – didn’t have food because the pension wasn’t that much and the dole, and sort of going through hard times you know, it was just eating boiled up dumplings dunked in syrup and that’s all we had … The message from me is faith in God.’