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Bevan William's story

Bevan grew up inland in regional Queensland and had never seen the ocean before he was 12 years old. In the late 1950s he was sent to what he believed was a vacation camp on the coast. He was very excited about the holiday. His mother dropped him at the station to get the train to Brisbane.

There he was picked up by a man who ushered him and other kids onto a bus. During this trip some of the children said they were going to ‘Alcatraz’ or ‘the jail’. They crossed a big bridge on the way there, and ‘I saw the sea for the first time, which was a big thrilling thing for me – I saw all this water and it was marvellous’.

They were taken to a government-run children’s home which felt like a jail to Bevan, with strict discipline and harsh physical punishment if they misbehaved.

One time, when Bevan was accused of a misdemeanour he had not committed, the superintendent flogged him with a leather strap. ‘He drew blood on my legs and arms and neck. And he flogged me like I’d never been flogged before by anyone. My parents never used to flog me, they’d give me a smack or something, but nothing like that.’

Bevan was then ordered to collect his belongings and go to the sick bay. ‘It was around about three metres square, it had an iron bed in the middle of it with sheets on it, a little table. And both windows were locked.’ The door was locked too. Other than going to school and meals, he remained in this room for the next few weeks, and was given a milk bottle to urinate in.

The superintendent entered the room at night and sexually abused Bevan several times. On the first occasion he made Bevan masturbate using the milk bottle, telling him ‘if your willy gets fat ... I’ll have to break the bottle with a hammer to get it out’. This put ‘the fear of God’ in Bevan, who was ‘thinking of all this broken glass’.

The next time ‘he got into bed with me ... And I woke up and his hands down my pyjamas, holding onto my penis and testicles. And I pushed him away’. The superintendent apologised – ‘and I sort of calmed down a bit’ – before asking Bevan if he knew how to masturbate.

‘He said, “Would you like me to lay down here with you and I’ll show you how to do it?” He was going to masturbate and I could watch him. I said “That’s dirty, I don’t want to know about it”.’

The last time the superintendent came in Bevan was awake ‘just lying there in the dark’. When he came towards the bed Bevan jumped up and took a punch at him. ‘I hit him somewhere on the body. It wouldn’t have hurt him, he was a big strong man. And I shaped up to him. Well, then he went berserk. He went berserk. He got the strap and he gave me a bigger hiding that he did the first time.’

The door then opened. ‘The matron had another key ... The matron came in and she stood there, was leaning against the wall, and watched him. She said, “What’s going on here?” And he said “Oh nothing, nothing”.’

Bevan argued back, telling her ‘“What’s going on here is I’m trying to protect myself from this animal”.

‘And I think I called him a fucking animal or something, but I’d just had enough. I’d just had enough, he’s just a predator.’

The matron ‘didn’t say “stop immediately” or do anything ... I think she’d seen it before, to be quite honest’.

A while later the matron gave him a pen and paper to write to his mother, with strict instructions. ‘I don’t want to hear anything [that has] been going on here, any nonsense ... You just say what a lovely time you’re having.’

So he wrote a letter ‘crying the whole time’, asking why he was at the home. ‘I couldn’t understand why my mother sent me to this place, why I was being punished.’ He doesn’t know whether she ever got the letter.

Soon after this Bevan’s older brother took him out on an excursion. He does not remember disclosing the abuse, but as he was removed from the home and sent back to his parents a few days later he believes he may have done so. ‘Or he picked up on something, or I don’t know.’

As a result of the abuse Bevan withdrew a lot, and had sleeping problems and nightmares. ‘It’s always been with me, this experience. I used to wake up in the night sweating, I used to wake up thinking about this predator. And why did God put people on the earth to do this sort of thing, you know?’

Bevan revisited the home a couple of times as an adult, and is now seeking his records from his time there. It was only a couple of weeks before he met with the Commissioner that he first disclosed the abuse to his wife.

Seeing media reports about child sexual abuse has made him realise that he was not the only person who experienced this – and helped him talk about what happened to him.

‘It’s incredible, incredible. I thought I was alone. And then I’m starting to think “I’m not alone, I’m not alone. There’s a lot of people this has happened to”. I’m going to tell it ...

‘So that’s the story. And I feel a bit relieved that I could tell somebody about it. And somebody’s listening.’

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