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Ava's story

Ava remembers the music teacher Mr Rollerman, who taught in her college in Victoria, as being her parents’ age. She also remembers him ‘as a greasy-haired, small, fat, slimy man’.

Ava was subjected to her teacher’s wandering hands when she was in fourth and fifth form, at the ages of 14 and 15. Rollerman would always find an excuse to look at her legs – checking her fingering technique was one excuse that Ava remembers. ‘Then his hands proceeded to wander up my legs as much as I could cope with.’

Rollerman gave one-on-one lessons to the girls at Ava’s school in a ground-floor bedroom of the school’s boarding house. This building was mostly empty during the day and there was no supervision of these lessons from anyone. Fortunately the bed had been removed, and there was only a desk and chairs. But the door was solid with no window, and the echoing corridor outside meant Rollerman would have heard any footsteps in time to stop his behaviour.

Rollerman painted his connection with Ava in a romantic light, which confused Ava. He warned her not to tell the school, as they would try to break up their romance.

Ava would have stood up to his abuse more but the lack of support from people around her made her hesitate. A friend reprimanded her for being rude to Rollerman after he grabbed her on the way out of the room. ‘That tended to make me feel, oh, maybe I shouldn’t be standing up to him.’ Also, Ava’s mother suggested private lessons in his home which increased Ava’s contact with him.

Ava knew that her mother would have blamed her entirely if she had reported Rollerman to the school. ‘Her attitude was very much that if you got into a difficult position, it was your fault.’

Rollerman gave lessons to Ava’s sister at a different school and ‘tried games with her too’, she recalls. Ava decided at some point in fifth form that she’d had enough music lessons.

She recommended to the Commission that such music lessons be more supervised. She suggests that they should be conducted in soundproof rooms with windows, so that lessons can be supervised in ‘a casual and natural way’.

Ava had not reported the abuse to anyone before she came to the Commission. She has a very supportive husband who’s helped her with any issues and has also worked through them by helping other people throughout her life.

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