‘I recall very early that I was strip searched, cavity searched, and showered and humiliated by male staff ... During this cavity search of my anus, I complained about them holding my buttocks apart and hurting me. Their response was to ram a finger in my behind and laugh hysterically. One of the officers said, “We have a tight one here, boys”, making sexual movements with his lower body.’
Bailey didn’t cope well when his parents separated. It was the late 1970s and he was 13 years old. He was left looking after his younger siblings while his dad worked. Soon he began smoking and truanting from school, and fell in with ‘the wrong crowd’.
When Bailey was 14, some mates turned up in a stolen car and he went joyriding with them to Cairns. They discovered a rifle in the vehicle and took pot shots at trees en route. After a few days, the police caught up with them. Bailey was arrested for car theft and other offences. He ended up in a Brisbane youth hospital, which was used to house children who were in trouble with the law.
Bailey was sexually abused multiple times at the centre, including being inappropriately strip searched and cavity searched upon arrival. ‘The following morning, I complained to a different officer. He took me aside and yelled at me, saying how bad I was for making up stories.’
The officer said Bailey could make a formal complaint ‘at your own peril’, telling him ‘you’ll never get out of here if you carry on like this’.
‘So from then on, I said nothing’. During the rest of his time at the hospital, Bailey was groped on the buttocks by staff multiple times, and verbally taunted. He was searched and inappropriately touched every time he returned from weekends away.
When his grandparents took him out one time, he took the opportunity to tell his grandmother what was happening to him. She believed him, and took the abuse up with the director, having a heated argument. Unfortunately, this did not do much to improve his time there.
After about two months, Bailey turned 15 and was sent to a juvenile detention centre. During the month he spent at this facility, he was sexually and physically abused by other inmates, who were all older than him. He didn’t go back to school after he was released. There was only one high school in the area, which he didn’t feel comfortable going to as everybody knew he’d been in detention.
Bailey describes his current wellbeing as ‘up and down’. ‘Most of the time I’m pretty good. I try to keep as busy as possible.’ Although ‘my wife will tell you, I’m a workaholic’, he has troubles both with authority figures and being in a position of authority.
When Bailey tried counselling in his early 20s it didn’t seem to help him much, but he thinks it might be worth considering again. He still has nightmares and is unable to sit still even long enough to watch a movie. Taking anti-depressants prescribed by his doctor ‘keeps me calm ... Because I don’t drink anymore, I’ve done the AA thing years ago’.
Bailey has been married for almost 30 years and says he is ‘over-protective’ as a parent. His wife knows about the abuse he experienced, but his kids aren’t aware. He told the Royal Commission ‘I’ve tried all sorts of things, with religion, and alcohol’, but he finds that these days it is his family and ‘just keeping my mind active’ that help him the most.