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Becky Sue's story

‘I’m on a mission because I work in this field and I see this business with the kids all the time and I want change. And if my story, if this is an avenue that I can come in and you know, seek more support for the kids today, then that’s what I’m doing here.’

Becky’s work with families experiencing distress and conflict brought her into contact with parents who had difficulty looking after their children. She often met with a group of women - grandmothers like her - who were working to keep children within their family homes.

‘Sometimes you have to remove kids, of course you do, but wrap the families in support you know. This pulling everybody apart, the separation, is not the answer. It never works, it’s not the answer.’

Her experience of being placed in foster care informed much of her work. As a child, Becky and several of her sisters were taken by their father interstate and although her mother tried to retrieve them, police allowed their father to keep them.

‘It was a pretty traumatic childhood back then’, Becky said. ‘Dad was part of Stolen Generation, his story, and Mum’s story wasn’t too much different. Yeah, just broken families really on both sides.’

Becky’s father struggled to manage care of the girls who were soon made wards of the South Australian state. Becky was about five years old when she and two sisters were placed with the Lundberg family in the early 1960s. Carl and Julie Lundberg were often violent. Carl was ‘a womaniser’ who’d often arrive home drunk and Julie ‘was very unwell’.

During the time Becky was with the Lundbergs, she was raped several times by their son, Ken, over a period of one to two years. The abuse was often violent and Becky knew from her older sister Lauren’s experience of trying to talk to Julie, what would happen if she disclosed the abuse.

Lauren had been put in a caravan on the property and when she told Julie that Carl was trying to get in and that he’d tongue kissed her, she was ‘bashed’.

‘Julie tore her clothes off in front of all of us kids and said, “He wouldn’t look at you. You’re ugly”. There’s no way any of us would have gone to her.’

One day the girls ‘went to the welfare’ and said they didn’t want to live with the Lundbergs, but they were told it was ‘a wonderful foster home’ and they ‘should be grateful’. They were then driven back to the Lundberg home.

At an early age, Becky also experienced abuse from Lauren who would lie on and rub herself up and down Becky and insert objects into Becky’s vagina.

Over the years Becky became the main carer and organiser in the family and one day she was sent with a boy who was a friend of the family to do the shopping. On the way there, the boy who was about 17 or 18, stopped the car and raped her.

After the Lundbergs, Becky went to a second foster home where she was sexually assaulted by the foster father and his brother.

Years later, Becky reported the abuse to South Australia police. They spoke to Ken Lundberg who denied everything and the police matter didn’t proceed.

‘I can’t prove it, there’s not enough evidence, and that doesn’t matter to me’, Becky said. ‘You know as far as I’m concerned he got to feel for one minute that he didn’t get away with it somewhere, that I actually spoke up about it.’

Becky also reported the second foster father and his brother. By that time, the brother was dead but police spoke to the father. ‘The paedophile task force went to his door too and of course he denied it as well. But for me, that was enough for me. I could say, “Okay”, you know.’

Previously, Becky’s submission and appearance at the Mullighan Inquiry was the first time she’d spoken about the sexual abuse. Through that process, she received $40,000 of which $12,000 was paid in legal fees.

In her early 30s, she’d alluded to the abuse while doing some personal growth work but hadn’t gone into detail. She’d never mentioned the abuse by Lauren before speaking to the Royal Commission.

As an adult, Becky said she didn’t have ‘a healthy sexuality’.

‘I didn’t draw partners to me that would respect me, in a way. Like my first partner was very abusive, sexually as well as physically and so my relationships were very messy. My second marriage was a bit different. I’d call that a bit of healing in that area but I was also starting to do a bit of personal growth and healing work.’

She described ‘a lot more damage done’.

‘Even in the way I parented my children. I was over-protective … [but] I was able to protect them from something happening to them like that. I never learnt healthy boundaries. People just crashed over my boundaries and I wouldn’t even know. There was just no real awareness. I’d take myself away from people, isolate myself ‘cause I couldn’t deal with people.’

Becky’s work also brought her into contact with young people incarcerated for sexual offences and she couldn’t see them getting the support they needed. She recommended greater access to ‘trauma-informed care and response’, and had seen positive changes made through the arts.

‘People who can respond to trauma, and that’s what it is. People are being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder you know, like it’s quite common that that’s recognised and a lot of the responses are healing through the arts type stuff.’

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