Derick told the Commissioner, ‘My story is not a big story. It was a small, isolated event, and the only reason that I contacted the Commission was I thought, what if it’s a bigger story for other people and me coming forward I can actually help others?’
Derick was raised in rural South Australia in the 1960s and sent to a Christian boarding school for his first year of high school. He arrived as a naive, sickly boy and ended up spending a lot of time in the sick bay.
The sick bay was run by a man named Adam Hobbes. One day, Hobbes touched Derick inappropriately. Derick described the incident as ‘genital contact’ which was ‘probably almost fleeting … I don’t know how long it lasted for’.
Afterwards, Derick didn’t think much about it. He said there was some discussion amongst the boys about Mr Hobbe’s ‘fiddling’ but no one seemed to take it very seriously.
‘There was a total absence of any information or any thinking about this as far as I’m concerned, which meant that I was just totally unaware of it at the time ... I had no idea that that would have been a criminal act or that – in a way I had no idea that there was anything wrong with it.’
Derick said he simply got on with his life. ‘That was an event that I just remembered that happened but it just didn’t shape me or change anything about me. It would have been interesting if I had known that that was a bad thing that happened. It might have been quite different.’
Over the years, Derick has told his partner and his sister about the abuse but no one else. He said that this reticence is partly because he’s embarrassed but mostly because the incident was ‘not a big deal’. It’s only recently that his perspective has changed.
‘With more recent revelations with Church and priest activity, that’s when I start matching that event up with what goes on. Really, much, much later.’
Looking back now with an adult’s eyes, Derick worries that other kids at the school may have suffered more damaging abuse than he did.
‘One thing that concerns me a bit is that I remember going with this guy on a Saturday afternoon drive or something up the coast in his Volkswagen with a couple of other lads. And I was just thinking, one of them was quite, probably you’d say “effeminate”. So I’m kind of thinking he might have had a car full of vulnerable kids. And I don’t know anything about what might have happened with anybody else there, but when I think of that it’s not a good scenario.’