Bobbie’s mum was in her early teens – and ‘in child safety’ – when she was born, so Bobbie was immediately placed into care.
‘Foster care’s not a nice place to go to. It’s not. ‘Cause they don’t treat you like their own kids, or that feeling that you’re not that special, when you supposed to be feeling that kind of specialness with them, ‘cause you’re not with your family. And they just treat you like you’re shit.’
Bobbie was moved to multiple placements, which ‘makes it very hard as well. When I was a little kid, didn’t know who was what, where I was going’. She was subjected to physical and sexual abuse in some of these placements.
In the early 2000s, when she was still very young, she was living with a family in northern Queensland. At this placement Bobbie’s foster father and his friends sexually assaulted her.
She told the Commissioner that she didn’t report this back then, ‘‘cause I was a bit scared ... Some shame, some embarrassment. Just didn’t really feel the time to open up’. Her Department of Community Services (DOCS) caseworker hardly ever checked in on her.
Bobbie was attacked by her foster brother in this house, and injured so badly she had to go to hospital. After this she was moved to another family, and later on went to live in a residential care facility. She was abused in some of these other places too.
At some point Bobbie went to stay with her mother, but then ran away because her stepfather was violent. From the age of 13 she lived on the streets, and stopped attending school.
A Brisbane youth service provided some support, and she became involved with a man who was violent towards her. Multiple apprehended violence orders were taken out to protect her from this man, but DOCS never came to support her at the necessary court appearances.
For the next five years or so Bobbie remained homeless, until being given a public housing flat. She has never sought any compensation or apology regarding the sexual abuse she experienced whilst in state care, as ‘I didn’t even know what that is’. Although she has had some counselling about her drug use and other elements of her ‘lifestyle’, she has not spoken about the abuse she experienced in care.
Recently Bobbie became triggered and angry when a man made sexual advances towards her, and as a result she physically attacked him. Her lawyer from an Aboriginal legal service advised her that the man’s behaviour did not excuse her from her reaction to it.
Bobbie did not tell her lawyer about the sexual assaults when she was a young girl, so they could not be taken into account by the court. She spoke to the Commissioner from prison whilst she was on remand for this offence.
She suggested that foster carers should be assessed more thoroughly as to their suitability, and not just allowed to foster because they had the relevant police checks, and that kids in foster placements should have a safe adult they can talk to.
Bobbie’s grandfather has supported her along the way, and she tries to maintain hope and a positive attitude despite her troubles. Whilst in custody she has enjoyed participating in a hairdressing course, and just wants ‘to go and get ready for life when I get out’.