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Corey Alex's story

‘Mum and Dad put me in there because I was classed as an uncontrollable child because I was brain damaged when I was born. Mum always said to me that I was dropped on the concrete.’

In the early 1960s, Corey was placed in a residential facility for children with intellectual disabilities. The facility was funded by the Queensland Government and from the time of Corey’s arrival at the age of five, he was physically, emotionally and sexually abused.

‘I can remember when me dad took me up there. I was dropped off at the front and a big old fella was sitting at the desk, some chief or something he was. He said, “Just go with this fella” and I went into a room. He told me to strip off and I stripped off and he said, “Now you got to do what we tell you to do here or you’re going to be beaten”.’

The man then made Corey perform oral sex, telling him, ‘This is what goes on in here’.

Corey was put to work polishing floors and doing other chores around the facility. He and other boys were often woken in the middle of the night and told to change soiled bedsheets; if they didn’t, they ‘got a flogging’.

Corey said some of the sexual abuse occurred while he was ‘drugged up’. He also recalled being abused while in a straitjacket. Abuse was meted out regardless of boys’ disabilities.

‘I feel sorry for the poor blokes in the wheelchairs. [There was a] young boy, I mean, the treatment that he got was really bad – thrown out of the wheelchair – and we used to come along and pick him up … And he didn’t need that, you know. There were other ones who were worse than me. They were called spastics and really – their heads slammed up against the wall. I’ve seen so much.’

Corey’s father and brother worked at the facility in a different section away from the children. Corey had previously been sexually abused by his brother and this now continued.

‘I always hated him for that’, Corey said. ‘When I went back and told me dad what was going on up there, Dad said, “No, it doesn’t happen, don’t talk lies, don’t talk bullshit”, so I knew I was on me own. The other boys were the same, you know, like we went and talked to the big chief about it and the big chief said, “Don’t worry about it, it’ll be right”. The next night we get a flogging, we get a hiding and everything because we talked about it.’

Corey spoke to the Commissioner from prison where he was serving a sentence for sex offences. His first criminal charge dated back to the 70s when he’d left the residential facility. He’d spent many years in jail as a result of offences against children and adults, and he’d always had difficulty fitting in with society.

‘I lost all me childhood and I didn’t know nothing outside. I just couldn’t hang onto a job, I didn’t know how to manage money, I didn’t know anything because I can’t read and write because of my condition. I can remember things today and then tomorrow I’m back to square one again.’

Corey attributes the basis of his sexual offending to his experience of abuse as a child.

‘We learnt a culture there where we were giving a head job for money and that’s how come I get in so much trouble outside, because that’s the way I thought it was. If somebody asks you for money, you say, “Yeah, you give me a head job, you get your money”. Now I know where I was wrong and the last 15, 20 years I tried to change and get back on the right track, but it’s hard when you haven’t got psychs and counsellors behind you.’

After his initial contact with the Royal Commission Corey began having flashbacks to the abuse he’d suffered as a child. He’s started seeing a psychologist and said this is the first person who’s spoken to him in any depth about his offending.

‘I’m not saying that I’m perfect. I’m not. I mean, I realise now what I’ve done wrong but every time I got into trouble nobody said to me, “You can’t do this, you can’t do that”. It’s only this time being here and with [the psychologist], we sat down and talked about it and everything else, and he sort of told me where I was going wrong and where I can’t do this and I can’t do that. I sort of understood what he was saying.’

Corey hopes to be eligible for parole before reaching his maximum sentence date. ‘They still could try to keep me here. There’s not much I can do. I’ve done everything, like I’ve said to them, “Before I go out the gate I want to have the help and support that I need” … They don’t want to know. They said, “We’re not here to help you. We’re here to help the victims, not you” …

 

‘I was a troubled child, I’ll admit that, you know. I won’t lie about it. But what happened to me up there, it shouldn’t have.’

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