Bryan Peter's story

Bryan doesn’t know why he and his siblings were removed from their parents’ care. It was the mid 1960s, and Bryan was four years old. The boys were sent to a Salvation Army home in the southern tablelands of New South Wales, while the girls went to a Catholic orphanage.

Conditions at the home were harsh – there wasn’t enough food to go around, and Bryan was beaten for minor misdemeanours (he still has marks on his hands from being caned). On Friday nights the boys were allowed to go out, but one time when Bryan was eight he decided to stay at the home instead.

One of the staff at the home, Captain Duggan, came in and sexually assaulted Bryan. ‘I was there, watching TV, and he started coming on to me. Started touching me and all that ... And then he wanted me to put my mouth on his old fella.’

Some of the other boys returned and interrupted this abuse. However, after this, Duggan would come into Bryan’s dormitory at night to abuse him.

‘He used to come wake us up, and take us down to the toilet. And if we didn’t do what he wanted us to do, the next day he used to give us the cane for no reason.’

Duggan would watch the boys while they showered, and abuse them in the playground. ‘He used to take us down there, and do things to us ... There’s other kids too.’

Sometimes Duggan would make the boys clean the bathrooms naked. ‘You had to bend over, and scrub the toilet, while he’s touching you all over the place.’ Bryan remembers the abuse ‘was going on for a long time. And then, of course, he tried to stick it up my backside once’.

Although Duggan threatened Bryan not to tell anyone about the abuse, he disclosed it to a couple of older boys. They reported it to the man who ran the home – ‘then he got the sack after that’.

There was another man, whose name Bryan cannot remember, who would take him and a group of other boys out in his orange Morris Major. The man would take them to his apartment, and ‘do things to us, play with us and all that sort of stuff’.

Sometimes he would drive them down to a river, and molest them one at a time. Bryan knows that one of these boys later took his own life.

Bryan also told staff about the abuse by the man in the Morris, but was told that this man was a preacher, and so wouldn’t do anything like that. He decided to speak with police, and skipped school with a group of boys to do so. He provided a statement, but does not know what happened with the matter after this.

When Bryan’s older sister got out of the orphanage, she removed him from the home. He was around 11, and returned to live with his family. After leaving school, he moved around working job after job for a long time.

Bryan experienced a workplace injury, and is now on a disability pension. His wife left him a while ago. He does not have much contact with his siblings any more, though his son helps him use social media to see what they are doing.

Residing in public housing in the same suburb as the old boys’ home is hard for Bryan, but he has limited options to move. He experiences depression and takes medication for this.

Bryan’s main support is his GP, who checks in with him regularly, and he sometimes goes out the doctor’s farm when he is feeling down. ‘I get upset. Try not to think about it. And then it just comes back to you, all this stuff.’

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