In the early 1990s, when Brock was about 11 years old, his father died and his mother started drinking heavily. At the time they were living in a small town in regional New South Wales where there was little for a kid to do except visit the local youth centre. Brock started to go there ‘nearly every day. Just a place to go hang out and that sort of thing’.
At the centre Brock encountered two middle-aged youth workers who separately groomed and sexually abused him many times over the next few years. James O’Brien first approached Brock when he was 12.
‘He offered me driving lessons and that sort of thing. And then I’d go for a drive and while I was driving he’d put his hand on me lap and touch me and that sort of thing. And that’s where things started.’
The abuse escalated to the point where O’Brien would drive Brock to a secluded spot two or three times a week ‘and he’d pull up and start sucking me dick and that sort of stuff and on the way back he’d give me 50 bucks and a packet of smokes’.
This continued for about three years until the youth centre closed. The abuse from the other youth worker, Damien Wallace, started earlier and continued for longer.
‘He’d turn around and like give me money and that every now and then. And then he’d put it down his pants and said “If you want it, go get it” and that sort of stuff. So I’d do that. He’d turn around and offer me smokes and things like that if I touched him and he could touch me and that sort of thing.’
In time Brock started spending nights at Wallace’s place. During these stays Wallace ‘pampered’ Brock and offered him anything he wanted, including marijuana. ‘I’d get stoned there and then he’d sort of like do whatever he wanted with me.’
One time Brock tried to report the abuse to his mother ‘but she was drunk and it scared her and she didn’t know what to do’.
The youth centre closed when Brock was 15. This broke his contact with O’Brien for good. With Wallace the break was only temporary.
Brock dropped out of school and got a job that took him travelling around the state for a few months. When that fell through he needed a place to stay so he contacted Wallace and moved in with him. The first week was okay, Brock said, but after that it became the norm for him to wake up in the middle of the night and find Wallace ‘doing things’.
Brock’s mental health deteriorated and he was hospitalised several times. At 16 he tried to hang himself. Afterwards he spoke to a psychologist and disclosed what O’Brien and Wallace had done to him. Nothing changed. No authorities intervened and Brock went back to live with Wallace.
Brock escaped in his late teens after he met Cindy and they decided to run away together. They moved interstate until their shared drug addiction drove them back to New South Wales where they both ended up moving in with Wallace. It was a disaster.
‘I was sick of – just like having sex with Cindy and being happy with her, and then Damien behind the scenes trying to force me to do other things and saying that he’d tell her if I didn’t, this that and the other. So I ended up going schizo and freaked out and nearly killed meself and then I end up telling Cindy what happened.’
After Brock’s disclosure, Cindy broke off the relationship. Later she and Brock got back together again. They continued their drug habits, had several kids and spent years in an ‘on again, off again’ relationship. Meanwhile, Wallace continued to pursue Brock until Brock threatened to kill him.
Eventually Cindy’s drug habit got out of hand and she left the kids in Brock’s care. Brock did his best to look after them. ‘I ended up pulling me socks up and got off the speed and the kids were going to school.’ He sent the kids to Cindy’s for weekend visits and everything was alright for about a year.
‘And then one time she rang up asking for money and that sort of stuff and I couldn’t give her any money, so I dropped the kids up there for the weekend, and she ended up ringing the police and said that I sexually abused the kids.’
Brock was charged and pled not guilty. After a long legal process he was convicted and sent to jail for several years. At the time of his session with the Royal Commission he was undertaking a therapeutic course for offenders and was about to be released. He said that the course has been useful.
‘I’ve learned a lot of things. Lot of tools in the toolbox, ways to deal with problems … I’ve learned to look at the things in the day that I like the most and that sort of thing. It’s been very good.’