Duane Robert's story

‘I’m just so bitter and angry. I’ll end up killing him and other people … I’m a doer. I don’t talk about shit. I just go and do it. If I’m planning on bashing someone … I don’t make threats. I just go and do it. Jail’s taught me that much.’

Duane was abused by a neighbour when he was about eight or nine years old.

‘I’ve stalked him for years. I had it in my head I was going to “knock” him. But this [talking to the Commissioner] is probably the better way. I’ve done enough jail.’

Duane’s parents split up when he was about 13 years old. He was made a ward of the state in the mid 1980s, when his mother left him at a police station, because she believed he had stolen her boyfriend’s marijuana. He spent the weekend in the cells.

‘From there I went to various foster homes, foster parents in regional Queensland.’

In one foster home, Duane’s foster father tried to make him have sex with his foster mother.

‘I kept running away from all them places. I ended up in a boys’ home.’

In the home Duane was bullied by a boy who was a couple of years older and exhibited violent and sexualised behavior.

‘He was standing over all us kids … He was a couple of years older than us … He was making us have sex with [an older] girl … and there was physical … like he’d bash us and things like that.’

After this Duane ‘kept bouncing from my mum’s to my dad’s’. When he was about 15 years old, he got into trouble with the police and was sent to juvenile detention. One of the guards ‘used to come in of a night time … always trying to touch us, flashing himself at us’.

Duane had never told anyone about any of his abuse until he spoke with the Commissioner.

‘I’m a man. Keep it to myself. Deal with it myself.’

After he left the juvenile detention centre Duane moved around Australia.

‘I just rode the country … bumming around. Thieving. Using amphetamines. Smoking marijuana. Never been a drinker … amphetamines was my drug. Haven’t had any of that in 12 years … I’ve been getting in trouble with the law since it all started.’

By the age of 20, Duane had been in two different maximum security jails and had been involved in significant violent altercations. He ‘can’t hold a relationship with a female for more than three months’, and knows he has anger management issues.

‘Anger. I’ve just been angry for so many years … it’s my level of violence too. I don’t just hit you, I get up on the bloody bench and I’ll jump and land on you with my knees. I’ll break bones.’

Over the years Duane has tried therapy but, ‘it’s not the answer’. In jail he has found that painting has helped.

‘I put music on and [paint and] I lose a day … Can’t go fishing so I’ve got to paint.’

Duane has also worked with social workers in speaking to young people in juvenile detention to attempt to divert them from jail. He is now hoping to access his complete welfare records and gain more understanding of what happened to him as a child.

Duane had one foster mother who treated him well and who stays in touch with him.

‘I had a foster mum … she’s still my foster mum today thirty years later … We need more people like her … They’re the people that need the help … They’re the people that are doing this work … If I’d gone straight to [her] first up, things might have been different.’

Duane was recently convicted of child sexual abuse. He maintains his innocence and finds it very difficult to live in the protection unit.

‘I live in here in a jail full of child molesters and I look at them and there’s some real horrible ones in here that I’d just like to stomp all over their heads and then there’s other blokes and I just don’t know how to categorise them, because they could be in the same boat as I am … I’m labelled a child molester for the rest of me life.’

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