Eunice's story

‘This little child from the time he was three years old was abused in almost every facility that the child welfare department placed him. Nobody cared about the child. Nobody … One year they put him in seven different places to stay and they expected him to adjust … Poor little thing, he couldn’t protect himself. The child welfare workers, if they went to see him they never spoke to the patient at all. They went to see the foster people, they’d sit down and have afternoon tea but if the child wanted to speak to that welfare officer they wouldn’t’, Eunice told the Commissioner.

Stanley was conceived in the 1950s when his mother, who was a resident of a psychiatric facility in Western Australia, was raped by a doctor during a ‘sex therapy’ session. As Stanley’s mother was not permitted to take care of him, his aunt Eunice promised her sister that she would look after him.

‘Stanley’s file from 64 years ago when he was a little tiny baby, he was just removed from his mother because his mother was unwed. She wasn’t permitted to keep the child, wasn’t suitable. And the family tried desperately to have Stanley come to us … They wouldn’t allow us to adopt Stanley because that’s not their policy … So they put him into the hands of strangers and he’s had a terrible horrific life.’

At three months of age, Stanley was made a ward of the state and placed into foster care with Mr and Mrs Rodolfo. Eunice and her family tried to locate Stanley, but the Child Welfare Department would not tell them where he was living or let them take care of him. It was during this time that Stanley’s mother passed away.

The Rodolfo household was aggressive, abusive and dysfunctional. Mr and Mrs Rodolfo experienced numerous relationship issues yet continued to foster several children, one of whom was sadistic. ‘Another foster child, five-year-old Mark, was found to be “fiddling” with Stanley, who was five-six years old.’ Stanley was three years old when Mr Rodolfo began sexually abusing him, and continued the entire time he lived there. The abuse finally ended when Mr and Mrs Rodolfo divorced and Stanley was placed in a child welfare reception home. It was here that Eunice found him at eight years old and was able to bring him home to live with her and her husband.

After bringing Stanley home from the reception centre, Eunice noticed that he could neither read nor write. She took him to the doctor for a medical check-up where it was revealed he had ringworm, lice, bruises to his body, was emaciated and emotionally troubled. The doctor confirmed Stanley’s condition was ‘a result of sexual abuse and neglect’, and attempted to contact the child welfare department but no action was taken.

Eunice loved looking after her nephew and he blossomed under her care and home schooling. ‘He loved being with us, he loved the company, he loved all the children in the family. He felt as much peace as he possibly could with horrible memories.’ However the child welfare department would not let the family adopt him and would instead take him away from the home on weekends to live with other foster families.

Stanley was also sent for long periods to different boys’ homes in the state. One of these homes was run by the Methodist (now Uniting) Church and it was there that Stanley was raped by a middle-aged male teacher when he was 10 years old. At another home run by the Christian Brothers, Eunice was told by the mother of another child that Stanley had been raped by one of the Brothers.

From the age of 16, Stanley began displaying ‘unusual and extreme’ sexualised behaviour that reflected the abuse he had endured. The child welfare department became concerned but instead of investigating the origin of this behaviour, debated over whether to sterilise him or not. It was ultimately decided that he would not be sterilised as he was under the age of 18.

Although Stanley’s behaviour markedly improved while he was living with his extended family, he began to act out as a teenager, and by the time he turned 18 had developed a criminal profile after stealing a car with some friends. From that age onwards he was remanded to a mental health facility in Western Australia.

‘With Stanley, history has repeated itself almost identically with that of his mother.’

As Stanley is now physically disabled, he is currently living as a long-term inpatient in a high dependency group home outsourced by the psychiatric facility he was originally placed in. Eunice told the Commissioner that for 25 years Stanley received electro-convulsive therapy on a monthly basis after being wrongly diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and retardation. Eunice noted she is no longer permitted to visit the facility because she continues to ask questions about his treatment, diagnosis and wellbeing.

Stanley’s history of abuse and incarceration has caused Eunice and her family enormous distress. Eunice believes that young people should be entitled to independent psychiatric and medical consultations, and the department of child welfare should do all they can to place children with family members when their parents are unable to care for them.

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