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Dian's story

Dian was born in the 1960s and came from Europe to Victoria when she was about six years old. She and her siblings were made wards of the state after their parents abandoned them. All of the children except for one brother went to a family group home run by the Presbyterian Church.

The house parents were Mr and Mrs Stevenson.

Mr Stevenson was frequently violent towards the children. If the children didn’t behave, they were made to strip off and stand on a chair or walk around the house naked.

Stevenson used to molest Dian’s sister in the bathroom. ‘I can’t remember why, but I just walked in, and he had her bent over the sink and she was washing her hands, and he was molesting her … And I asked him what he was doing and he said to me, “Go back to bed, otherwise you can take her place”.’

Once, when official visitors came to the house, Dian told them that she had been beaten. The visitors reported what she’d said to the Stevensons, and Dian was beaten again as a result.

The Stevensons were replaced by Mr and Mrs Domager in the early 1970s. Mr Domager repeatedly sexually abused Dian. Dian told the Commissioner that once Domager offered Dian to his friend for sex in return for money. The friend took Dian to a train museum but abruptly took her home. Dian said, ‘Then he just suddenly got really angry and I didn’t know why … and he gave some money to Domager and said, “I can’t do it. I just can’t do it”. And I didn’t know what it meant at the time’.

Dian said that after the Domagers, a lovely couple were appointed house parents and the mother helped her to obtain a scholarship to do further studies that set her on a successful career path.

Dian said that she has found it difficult to relate to people, although she has been successful at school and in her career. She struggled to disclose the abuse to others because she was afraid of retaliation. Eventually, she reported the abuse to the police but was told it had happened too long ago for them to take action.

Dian now lives in another state and has become a foster carer. She is passionate about making sure that she gives the best care she can to children placed with her. Dian noted that she had to undergo a psychiatric assessment to ensure that she would be a suitable foster parent – something she doubts was applicable in the 1960s and 1970s in Victoria.

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