Brendon’s parents separated when he was young and he moved around regional Queensland a lot with his mother during the 1990s. He was diagnosed with ADHD and put on medication, however this made him more hyperactive so he stopped taking it.
As he got older he constantly fidgeted and got into fights at school, and was eventually expelled. He started drinking, and running away from home because he did not want to attend his mother’s church.
‘I had a good upbringing but I just wanted to run amok ... I should have listened, but I didn’t.’
Brendon began drinking, and would steal so he could buy alcohol. Some of his teenage years were spent on the streets, and he started smoking cannabis and sniffing paint. He got into trouble with police and was placed on a youth justice order which required him to do community service, however he does not remember having a caseworker of any kind.
At the age of 15 he was remanded to a youth detention centre in Brisbane, and then another. The guards at the second centre would grab him and other boys around the neck, and violently intervened in fights between the boys.
Most days Brendon would be sent to spend a couple of hours in isolation. He would deliberately try to go there, as it would give him time to chill out and relax.
At the second facility, he was subjected to inappropriate strip searching. This entailed him having to strip naked entirely, squat and cough. The worker conducting this search then followed him into the shower, and it felt very different to other times he had been searched.
He did not report this searching, as he figured it must be normal treatment. It was only when he was older and admitted to an adult jail that he realised it was wrong. This time he was not asked to stand naked and cough, and when he asked the guard why, he was told this was prohibited.
Brendon found work after leaving detention and lived on a rural property with a family friend. However, after using methamphetamine and stealing a vehicle, he found himself back in prison.
He spoke to the Commissioner from jail, where he has worked packing meals for the inmates. He plans to go back and live with his family friend once he is released – he knows being in the bush is good for him and he rarely gets into trouble out there.
Although Brendon is a little nervous about life outside prison, he feels that he has settled down somehow in the last year or so. He used to get into a lot of fights inside, but recently ‘I just stopped letting little stuff get to me ... I just wanted to, I was sick of being in trouble all the time, and I just thought I’m just going to focus on me.’