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Andy Trevor's story

‘I would like to ask the Royal Commission … “Why was I sent to [prison] as a 15-year-old child and how did the Department of Children’s Services come to the conclusion that [prison] was the safest place for me to be housed and how was that decision in my best interests as a developing young child?”’

Andy was born in the early 1970s. His family life was ‘a bit dysfunctional. My dad was a bit aggressive towards us … from an early age, I sort of ended up in institutions’.

From the age of 10 until he was sent to adult jail at 15, Andy spent time in six boys’ homes and juvenile detention centres in New South Wales and Queensland.

‘I kept running away … because of things that were happening in ’em. There was a lot of sex abuse and that sort of thing … so my way of dealing with that was I kept running away from it and as a consequence, I was sent to [prison] when I was 15 and yeah, I’ve been in jail pretty much ever since.’

At many of the institutions, children were sexually abused by other children. When they reported the abuse to officers, they ‘would go, “Oh, well, we don’t wanna know about it. You go and sort out your own problems” and that … was their attitude’.

When Andy was 12 he was sent to a boys’ home and he ‘run away from there about probably 10 times I think, to get away from the paedophiles … I didn’t like it there at all’.

Andy went to that institution ‘believing that that was a place I was going there to be fixed up … I thought that was going to be a good place to go to, but it turned out completely opposite … I kept running away … I didn’t want to be around what was happening. That was my way to get away’.

At the last juvenile detention centre Andy was sent to, sexual abuse amongst the boys was more prevalent than at the other centres, and ‘that’s why I wanted to get away from there. I didn’t want to be involved with that’. The officers did nothing about it and ‘they’d tell the other kids that you’d been squealing on other kids and that, so it’d create more trouble for you’.

Because Andy kept running away, the only place Children’s Services could think to send him was to adult prison. For the first five or six weeks, he was kept in a five metre by two metre cage. ‘I call it a little chicken cage, ’cause that’s what it reminded me of.’

Andy was then moved to the protection yard, where ‘there was mainly paedophiles … and I was placed in there … When you look at it, you don’t put a kid in a paedophile yard … it just doesn’t make sense’.

After an incident in the showers, Andy was moved into the mainstream of the jail. ‘It was quite obvious I would become a target and I did … I was sexually assaulted and raped … [on] no less than 30 occasions. I know this because this was the number I stopped counting at, and just accepted that nobody was coming to save me.

‘I was in jail and if I reported any of that I’d be known as a dog and the consequences wouldn’t have been nice.’

Andy has spent all but about 18 months in jail over the last 30 years. ‘For far too long, I felt as though my secret of being sexually abused was literally a matter of life or death. My decision not to tell anyone … was the safest thing to do. It is an established principle amongst prison inmates that people who inform on others are dealt with in a severe, unforgiving manner, sometimes by death.’

Andy told the Commissioner, ‘For so long, I have lived with the feeling that I was somehow responsible for the abuse … or should have been able to stop it. For many years, the shame and overwhelming feeling of being infected and contaminated has been a significant barrier preventing me from speaking out about the abuse’.

As a result of his time as a child in an adult jail, Andy believes that he carries ‘the physical and emotional scars of the abuse that has led to severe mental health problems, drug abuse, [and] suicidal behaviour, requiring years of psychological therapy and counselling’.

Andy has only just become aware, through a forensic psychology report, ‘that many of the issues I am now faced with are in fact a direct result of my treatment through childhood … I’ve been locked up in prison over 30 years, plus the boys’ homes, so I couldn’t really look outside of the prisons [and] acknowledge that those things have had a result, you know’.

By telling his story Andy is ‘hoping that I can remove some of the load I’ve been carrying around all my life. There is nothing more that can be done to me that hasn’t already been done … I am hopeful that the Royal Commission can understand the impact of what happened to me and ask [it] how and why this abuse was allowed to happen to me.

‘If Children’s Services have a duty of care to ensure a child’s best interests are at heart, how is sending a child to jail in their best interests … To say that [jail] is a safe place for me to go, I think it’s absurd.’

Andy told the Commissioner, ‘No one ever listened to us about the reasons why we used to run away … The reasons why … probably a lot of other kids as well, was because they didn’t want to be around what was happening there. And as a result, we were punished for that, and in my case, I was punished by being sent to jail. Jail was probably the worst place to put me because I’m sure now my time in … jail at 15, 16 and 17 has had an impact on my life’.

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