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Christian Arthur's story

Christian’s family was well off and he attended a private non-denominational school in Sydney as a teenager in the 1970s. He remembers a single incident of sexual abuse by a teacher and wanted to add it the Royal Commission’s body of knowledge as it builds a picture of historical abuse across institutions.

‘I consider this not even a trifling incident in my life’, Christian told the Commissioner. ‘Apart from the fact that for some reason I can still remember it. And I’m acutely aware that there’s a large number of people who have experienced things that really bear no comparison to what I experienced.’

One of Christian’s teachers was a man in his 50s, George Mullins.

‘We sat at these most uncomfortable wooden desks and in general terms I can remember Mullins would at different times come up either next to or beside boys in the class and tickle them very actively, and that was what happened to me – I’m sure this is what happened to all the other boys – his tickling of me extended down to my crotch. It was over in a moment or two. But that’s what he did. That was his modus operandi.

‘I don’t have any memory of it happening more than once, but I couldn’t say that it didn’t …

‘I know that I reported it to [the master of the junior school] … I can’t imagine that I would’ve reported it after just one incident.’

To Christian’s knowledge the master took no action. ‘I have the memory of a rather blank look on his face – I’m analysing this now years later – it was a look of noncommittal response, disinterested, unengaged.’

Christian did not report the incident to his parents. ‘What goes on at school, stays at school.’

Christian tried to explain the culture of the school at the time, where a certain level of abuse and casual violence seemed to be accepted as ‘par for the course’. He remembers George Mullins’ behaviour being openly discussed in the playground among the boys.

‘This was just part of what happened at school.

‘There were a range of rituals that were instilled or part of life at [the school] and this just got scooped up as one of them that you just rolled with …

‘It was like a rite of passage to have been tickled and interfered with by George Mullins.

‘There was no common or collective sense that this was wrong.’

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