‘We called him Freddy Krueger, I think. He was in the shed and no one wanted to go to the shed at all, any time of the day, for any reason. But they had the sporting equipment in the shed and every time I looked at a piece of the equipment … I just wanted to smash him in the head. But for whatever reason, I never did that.’
Faith was sexually abused by Brian Webster, who was a sports coach at her primary school in Perth in the early 1980s. The abuse began when Faith was seven and continued for about two years, occurring during and after school hours, and at a local stadium.
Faith’s friend Gail lived across the road from the school and one weekend the two girls were ‘at the primary school when he videotaped my best friend in the library, the school library … and to this day, me and Gail have not been able to speak to our parents properly, civilly or you know, have a proper relationship with them’. Webster sexually abused both girls and made a pornographic video of Gail.
Faith told the Commissioner that for a long time she blamed her parents for not knowing about the abuse, and when her father died when she was 13, she lost any chance of reconciling with him.
After being sexually abused, Faith put all her energy into her schoolwork and sports, and continued to excel in both. But her self-esteem suffered and she was always frightened. She internalised guilt about what happened to her, and became anxious.
Faith has attempted to take her life 12 times. She began using drugs when she was 15 or 16, and continues to do so. She told the Commissioner that she has jeopardised relationships because she felt damaged and that she didn’t deserve to be loved. She also has serious mental health and anger issues, and a lengthy prison record.
‘The anger. I don’t know how to deal with it … The shame and all that from what I was doing, that’s gone, 'cause I can hold my head up now.
'I really thought that the last person on earth that cared about me and loved me was dead, but that’s not the case. I’ve got family still there who still love me and who still care about me – and I was surprised actually, because I thought I’d ruined my reputation that badly that nobody cared. But that’s not the case.’
When Faith told a prison counsellor about the sexual abuse, the woman discovered that Webster was still employed at the school. The police were notified, and he was arrested and charged after they found child pornography at his house.
Faith knows that many girls were abused at the school when she was there, but she was the only one who was willing to make a statement to the police. Many of the others are now married with children, and did not want to come forward because of the ‘the stigma, or whatever’.
The police told Faith that they would not be pursuing her case but would be concentrating on children who had been abused at the school more recently.
Faith told the Commissioner that ‘the answer to stamping this out is not to employ a piece of scum like that anyway. Because he was textbook paedophile. Everything about him smelt like paedophilia … I can’t understand to this day, why they employed a person looking and dressing like that for a primary school, to be around young children’.
Faith was accompanied to the Royal Commission by a support person from the knowmore legal service. ‘These are the first steps in healing my anger, because I speak very, very rudely and violently … to my family and they don’t deserve it. They never did wrong by me.
'That’s why it’s good that I have this support and have somebody to talk to, so that I can deal with my angers in different ways. One thing I don’t do is, I don’t be violent or angry around children anymore. I don’t do that.’
Faith told the Commissioner that she believes she would make a good mentor for children. ‘I’ve got a lengthy prison record, but I think I’d be good to work with children. I think I could work with children … reading to them … just get them before they run off the rails.’