‘I had a mouth, I’m not going to deny it. As far as verbal abuse, yeah, they probably took a fair bit from me. If someone is yelling and screaming at you, [they] shouldn’t be doing the job. You’re dealing with emotionally disturbed kids from the start.’
Arty’s mum was good at throwing objects, and his father was good at yelling; this was business as usual in his family home. For the first eight years of Arty’s life, his parents split up and reconnected several times. He remembers moving around a lot before they finally divorced.
In the 1990s, when Arty was about 12, his father drove him to a police station in New South Wales. Arty was supposed to be picked up by his mother but she never came. She didn’t want him anymore. He was then made a ward of the state.
Arty was bounced around to several different foster homes, which never worked out. He ran away from two, and also got suspended from school. His caseworker tried to find another foster home but to no avail. Arty was then moved to an Anglican children’s home in another town.
The home only held six residents, and Arty shared a room with two other boys. He remembers the workers being on a roster, so he never knew which worker was coming in on which day.
Arty was physically and emotionally abused by several workers because he was difficult and often misbehaved.
‘They used the word “restraint”, but I’ve never known restraint to smash your head into the side of the bed … Throwing your face in your own vomit … That’s not what I would, in any way, shape or form, consider restraint.’
Arty spent a period of several months in juvenile detention, which he hated, for stealing alcohol. When he returned to the home, he was sexually abused by an older male resident. Arty didn’t know that it was wrong, so he didn’t tell anyone.
When Arty was in his mid-teens, he lost his temper. He became violent, and lashed out at a female staff member.
‘I hit Madeline once – I punched her in the chest – and that’s when Carl and Kurt grabbed me. Kurt punched me several times and told me that you never hit a lady … He got me off the ground and put me in an arm lock. If I had resisted, my elbow joint would have clean popped out. [They] forced me into my room and that’s when they began their so-called restraint on me that lasted five and a half hours.’
‘It just wouldn’t stop. I begged them to get off me. I was pleading, I was crying until I couldn’t cry anymore. I couldn’t breathe properly.’
He remembers wanting to call the police to report the assault, but the workers said it would breach his bail conditions. Arty didn’t want to go back to juvenile detention, so went to school the next day as if nothing had occurred.
However, a teacher saw the bruising on his lips and asked him what had happened. Arty then showed his teacher the bruises all over his body. The teacher rang the police and the department, and Arty was admitted to hospital.
Arty was then removed from the children’s home and sent to live in a caravan park. He stayed there for a few years, until he was told that the department would no longer pay for his housing.
In the late 2000s, Arty moved to another city to find work. He found this extremely difficult and he has been struggling financially ever since. He has also been estranged from his family for several years.
He has turned to alcohol and drugs to self-medicate, and in the past, has also overdosed on prescription drugs. He struggles with anxiety and nightmares. He doesn’t trust others and dislikes being touched.
‘If anyone tries to pin me to the ground or tickle me obsessively … I’m capable of anything … I don’t like older people touching me.’
Arty has never reported the abuse to police. He expressed interest in seeking compensation from the home, but can’t afford a lawyer. Arty is still shocked that no action was taken at the time.
‘With the evidence they had, there should have been criminal charges laid’, he said.