‘They threw us in the back of a Land Rover and … it was a bit strange for us to go away from home, really … six of us.’
When Clint was six, he and five of his relatives were taken from their community. Clint was sent to a hostel for young Aboriginal children in Western Australia and lived there for six years in the early 1960s. The hostel was managed by Mr and Mrs Brent, both of whom were very cruel.
‘The boss, he seemed to have boys … takes them in their room and then he plays with them and they have sex, you know … it was pretty bad alright. We had no choice.’ Mrs Brent was aware that her husband was sexually abusing the children, but did nothing. Clint believes Mr Brent also abused the girls at the hostel.
The abuse continued for several years. ‘He tried the same thing when I was about eight and I just … put up a fight, you know … because I knew what he was going to do to me.’ Even though Clint resisted, he was still abused until the age of nine or 10. Mr Brent then picked the younger boys, ‘whenever he wanted a bit of a root or something’.
As well as the sexual abuse, Mr and Mrs Brent physically abused the children, often hitting them with a horse whip. ‘They used to flog us … for anything … glad he’s dead now. I wish he was alive. I’d do the same thing to him.’ Clint was also put under a cold shower when he wet the bed, and was punished for trying to look after the younger boys.
Clint said that when welfare officers visited to check on the children, Mr Brent would tell them everything was fine, and they would leave.
When he was about 12 or 13, Clint was sent to a mission run by the Christian Brothers. ‘I ran away as soon as I got the chance. Brother Thomas … sexually abused me and some of the other boys. Father Harold … knew what was going on, but he didn’t do anything.’
Clint told the Commissioner that when he was 15, he’d had enough. He told the persistent Brother Thomas, ‘Don’t ever … I’ve been through enough … Just leave me alone’.
After he was released from care, Clint settled down and got on with his life. He got married and has children and grandchildren. He tries to be happy, but when memories of the abuse come back, he suffers depression.
Clint has only recently spoken about the abuse at the two institutions. ‘Kept it to myself all that time.’ He has not told his family, only that he was a member of the Stolen Generations.
‘When I think about … sometimes I think I’ll shoot myself, you know, commit suicide, but the kids …’ He has started seeing a counsellor through the advocacy service, Daydawn. ‘When I feel a bit down, I just go and see [her].’
Clint believes that it would have helped ‘if someone had come along and spoke to me about that … Only lately, all these things coming out, you know … Most of us blackfellas feel a bit frightened, ashamed … doesn’t go away. Never, ever. The only time it’ll go is when I’m dead’.
Clint contacted the Royal Commission because ‘I just had to come forward. It’s made me strong … I feel happy that I’ve told you … Thank you for helping me’.