Blake grew up in Sydney’s western suburbs in the 1980s. His stepfather was an alcoholic and physically abusive to Blake and his mother. As he described in a written statement, ‘I became an uncontrollable child and was brought before the court. My mother wanted help but she was persuaded that it would be better for everyone if I was handed over to the authorities, to be looked after’.
At the age of 10 Blake became a ward of the state and, despite there being a number of appropriate members of his Aboriginal family wanting to look after him, he was sent to a boys’ home. Within three months he was being sexually abused.
He stayed in homes for two years. ‘Within that two years I was brutally raped and bashed, tortured and put in isolation cells … with no toilet, no windows, nothing.’
Blake was sent to over 10 different homes in that time – so many he lost track. He recalls all the homes were bad. Sexual abuse was common in two of them in particular, and there were multiple offenders. At one home a staff member, Greg Allen, approached Blake in the shower and started fondling his genitals. This abuse included oral sex.
In his written statement Blake recalls, ‘He provided me with cigarettes and told me that I had to keep what was happening a secret. One night he came to my room and anally raped me. This happened at least eight times’.
At another children’s home, the house parents would touch Blake’s genitals. ‘What happened to me at [the children’s homes] was far worse than any beating my father gave me.’
Blake ran away many times. He would always be taken back to the children’s home. During one of his escapes he went to Kings Cross, where he committed a crime and ended up with a criminal record.
‘I came out of that place a changed person and my mum could never work out what was wrong with me. I was too embarrassed to tell my mum’, Blake told the Commissioner.
Shortly afterwards the police visited Blake and asked whether he had experienced sexual abuse at the first home, where Allen was. But Blake didn’t want to say anything because he didn’t want to ‘dob’ on anyone.
Blake’s first disclosure was to some older boys in one of the homes. He told a staff worker at the first home about the abuse. He later also told a number of prison staff members, and much later, his mother.
In his statement he wrote, ‘The sexual assaults left me feeling ashamed and in denial. I developed a drug habit, becoming a heroin addict and I stole to feed that habit. I ended up in prison’.
Blake’s life of addiction and crime continued. He’s now on methadone and will soon finish his current sentence. He has self-harmed and has mental health issues, for which he takes medication. He has seen psychologists but didn’t find them helpful.
A few years ago, Blake reported Allen to the police. There had already been charges against him but these had been dropped. However, the investigation continues. Blake is frustrated that he can’t be supplied with photos of staff from the homes, as he’s confident he could identify more perpetrators.
He’s also frustrated he can’t get all of his records. His files seem to have disappeared. He has records from one home only and these have been heavily redacted.
Blake is angry with the government for sending him to a home. He feels the sexual abuse has contributed to his mental illness and the amount of time he’s spent in jail. ‘My whole life’s been rooted over this. Will it ever get better? Who knows? Don’t get no worse than where I am, does it?’