When Chas was eight, his father was badly injured in a violent argument with a relative, and Chas and his siblings were placed into foster care in Western Australia. The siblings were in the foster home for about six months in the 1990s.
While at the home, the foster father often came into Chas’s room at night and sexually abused him. ‘Probably in the first three weeks … started … the dad … come in the room. Started playing with himself. Then he started playing with me … I didn’t understand what that all meant to me.’
During the daytime the foster father would send the other children to the shops, or to the park, and tell Chas he had to stay home to help clean the house. The abuse went on for the whole time Chas and his siblings were in foster care. Chas is unsure if the foster mother was aware of the abuse, or if any of his siblings were abused.
The foster father threatened Chas that if he told anyone, the children would be split up and sent to different foster homes. This was very worrying for Chas, so he kept quiet.
After six months Chas’s grandmother took the children out of foster care, and they lived with her. ‘Straight after that when Nan got us out of foster care, she noticed a difference sort of straight away … getting in trouble, fighting.’ She asked Chas what was wrong and he told her about the sexual abuse in the foster home. He also told her that his older brother, who was in his late teens, had been doing the same thing to him.
Although his grandmother kicked his brother out of the house, he doesn’t know if she reported the foster father, and nothing further was done about either of his abusers.
Chas uses drugs and alcohol to cope with the memories of his sexual abuse. He told the Commissioner that he ‘started smoking dope at 10 … I’d get stoned and go to sleep straight away … I was starting to drink at 12. Yeah’.
Chas’s grandmother took him to a counsellor, which was helping him, but then he ‘got into trouble and got locked up and didn’t end up going back to the counsellor’. Still in jail, he hopes once he is released, to return to counselling. If he decides to apply for compensation then any payment that he receives would be useful to pay for his treatment.
As well as talking to the counsellor about his sexual abuse, Chas knows he needs to address his anger issues. When he went back later, to have a look at the foster house, it ‘made me upset. I wanted to burn the house down’. He told the Commissioner that he frequently gets into arguments with people, and he has an extensive criminal record for crimes involving violence.
Chas was glad that he came forward to the Royal Commission because, ‘people need to know that these things did happen’.