Dewayne grew up in a country town in the 1970s and 80s. His family was Catholic. By the time he was 11 years old he would regularly visit the local YMCA, tagging along with his brother. Their father was away a lot for work and their mother enjoyed having young people from the YMCA over to the house for barbeques and to watch movies. This included Owen Parker, one of the youth workers, who was around 18 or 19.
One evening Owen asked Dewayne to come and choose a video with him. On the way back Owen drove Dewayne to some isolated bushland and abused him. He threatened Dewayne, telling him to keep quiet about the incident. Dewayne was terrified and told no one. The abuse continued along the same lines for about a year until Dewayne’s family moved interstate. After that, Owen was out of Dewayne’s life - at least, that’s what Dewayne thought.
When Dewayne was around 19, he disclosed the abuse to his brother when a conversation accidentally took them to the subject. After that he told their parents, who were angry and upset. At the time, Dewayne decided to ‘put it aside’ and not take any action.
But this changed a few years later when he saw Owen on TV speaking out as a victim of child sexual abuse by the clergy. This triggered a panic attack for Dewayne. He was hospitalised. But it also prompted him to seek counselling for the first time and disclose the abuse to his partner (now wife). Shortly after hospital, Dewayne went interstate and reported to the police.
It seemed as if the report went nowhere, but then a year or two later Dewayne received a letter of apology from Owen. Dewayne didn’t accept it as sincere. There were a lot of ‘buts’ in it, where Owen explained away his behaviour as a result of the abuse he himself had experienced.
Recently Dewayne again saw Owen on TV talking about himself as a victim.
‘It opens up wounds and then all of a sudden, there he is again. There he is again … It was just a constant saturation, in every form of media, where he was turning up.’
Dewayne thought it was hypocritical that Owen said nothing of the abuse he had perpetrated himself. ‘I hit rock bottom ... From there … it’s gone forward … I know I couldn’t have done it without Bravehearts … Not a chance.’
Dewayne decided to speak to the Royal Commission in a private session. He was put in touch with SANO, a special task force in the police. When he contacted them, he was shocked to be told that Owen had pleaded guilty to two charges of indecent assault many years back – assaults that Dewayne had reported to the police – and was given a good behaviour bond. ‘Why wasn’t I told?’ He realises now that’s why he got the ‘apology’ letter – most likely it was a condition imposed upon Owen.
Overall Dewayne’s life is good. He is grateful for a wonderful wife and children and he loves his job. However, because of the abuse, he has nightmares and difficulty sleeping. He has depressive symptoms. It’s not easy for him to form trusting relationships. He is overprotective of his children and sometimes dictatorial and hard on them.
He is not seeking compensation from the YMCA.
Dewayne has a way of talking himself around on those ‘horrible, horrible days’. ‘Just think about how you’re gonna feel in 24 hours’ time. You’re gonna feel better, mate. She’ll be cool. It’s all good. She’ll be apples.’
He acknowledged the work of the Commission. ‘You guys are great … It’s just so nice to know that your kids, nowadays, can grow up in an environment where people actually really do care. It’s a good feeling … It’s just good to see that something’s actually being done about it.’