Dermott Stephen's story

In his mid-teens in the 1960s Dermott migrated from the UK, as part of scheme run by a non-profit organisation to bring youths to work in Australia. As the age of consent was still 21, ‘everyone who came out under the government came out as a ward of the state’. Having already completed part of an apprenticeship he intended to finish this qualification and find work and eventually support other family members to migrate.

When he arrived in Sydney, Dermott stayed in a suburban hostel which he believes had been bought for use by the scheme and which was run by a man called Mr Brearley.

Dermott was raped by Brearley on two occasions. At the third attempt Dermott fought back with a kitchen knife and ‘suggested I’d take his appendix out if he tried it again’.

After this incident, Dermott left the hostel and found alternative accommodation. He went to the offices of the organisation that ran the program and reported the attacks. ‘They turned round and says, “Well, things like that don’t happen”.’

At the time he felt he could not report the matter to police ‘because in those days if you reported anything like that ... you were labelled basically, “Oh, you’re a poofter”. Not the fact you were a victim’. Brearley would now be in his 90s if still alive, so Dermott sees little point in reporting the rapes.

Unable to complete his apprenticeship, Dermott found other work and supported himself through university. He married and had children and did not return to the UK for over 30 years.

Impacts of the abuse have included a reluctance to have male friends due to trust issues. He tends to avoid conflict and can be walked over by others, and was a workaholic until health issues interrupted this.

Recently Dermott has sought his records. Although he was advised no documents existed, he was able to find the details of the ship he sailed on. He has had difficulty accessing support as he was not a typical ‘child in care’ or ‘child migrant’, despite being a child and ward of the state at the time of the abuse.

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