‘I’m pretty low at the moment’, Gaz told the Commissioner. ‘I’m actually a bit angry at the moment.’ He is angry with the system, he said. There is help he badly needs which he feels the system is not providing.
Gaz is currently in prison, serving a sentence for child pornography offences. It’s the second time he’s been convicted on child pornography charges. He had hoped that he might receive support in jail to help him change.
‘I’ve always hated – and I still do, the paedophile side of me. I’ve always tried to fight against it’, he said.
But he said he had not had the opportunity to participate in any treatment programs, or been given any advice about services he could access. ‘Absolutely nothing’, he said. ‘I don’t know of anything. They haven’t told me anything about it.’
Instead, he said, he has been labelled a paedophile and listed on the sex offenders register. Once he comes out of jail he will need to comply with all the conditions that involves.
Gaz is in his 50s. He grew up in Sydney’s beach suburbs. His parents divorced when he was very young, and he stayed with his mother. Both parents formed new relationships and Gaz’s family expanded to include step and half siblings.
He began his education at a local pre-school, but was asked to leave after several incidents of inappropriate behaviour. Showing another boy his penis was one of these, and having what he described as a ‘liaison’ with a young girl was another. In his early years of primary school he was sent to board at a non-government boys’ school. His uncle, Harry, just 10 or so years older, was also a boarder there. Harry had been sexually abusing Gaz since he was a very young child, and he continued to abuse him at school, enlisting his friends to do so too.
As well, there was disturbing behaviour from one of the housemasters.
‘[He] looked after us, at night. I can’t remember what age I was. He’d come around after lights out, probably a couple of hours, wake us up – a group of primary school kids, from me to a couple of sixth class boys, would go to his room.’ The housemaster didn’t touch the boys, or encourage them to touch each other, but there was nudity, which the housemaster photographed.’
Gaz was at the school for four years, when he was expelled for inappropriate sexual behaviour with a younger child. He had no idea there was anything wrong with what he’d done. ‘At the time I thought it was normal.’
His parents enrolled him at another non-government school, but already education didn’t hold much interest for Gaz. It was ‘boring’, he said. ‘At that stage I’d given up on school.’ Though he was no longer in daily contact with Harry, there were family holidays and visits to relatives where Harry continued to sexually abuse him. This ended when Gaz was 15: ‘I told him to piss off’, Gaz said.
His mother organised counselling for him, but Gaz didn’t reveal that he’d been abused. ‘I just clammed up, I wouldn’t say anything.’ He left school in Year 10. By then, he said, he’d become ‘aggressive’. He’d also got into more trouble for his sexual behaviour.
In the years after leaving school, Gaz completed an apprenticeship and worked as a tradie. He abused alcohol and drugs. Technological changes meant his job became redundant. ‘My drinking got worse, my depression got worse.’ He wasn’t able to form relationships. He did get engaged at one stage, he said. ‘But that all fell apart. I was unfaithful, I was badly binge drinking at the time, discovered amphetamines at age 25 and got involved in gangs …’
He first regarded himself as a possible paedophile in his 20s, he said. ‘[I] got into child porn when I got hold of a computer.’ That was when he was in his 30s.
‘I’ve never actually interfered with a child’, he told the Commissioner.
Gaz was on medication for schizophrenia and is now medicated for depression. But he doesn’t find prescription drugs effective. ‘The only medication that ever worked for me was when I was taking an overdose of it’, he said. Ice works better, but it’s difficult to control his use. ‘I abuse it’, he said. ‘If I had a small amount of that each day, I’d be right. [But] the moment I’ve got my pension payment, I’ll go and spend $500 on it, and have it all that night.’
He’ll give up the ice, he said - ‘If they can give some medication so I can feel like I do when I’m on the ice, yeah.’
The housemaster at Gaz’s boarding school is now the subject of a court case. Gaz has given a statement to police and depending on the outcome of the case, may seek compensation. He is not sure what lies ahead for him. He has little contact with his family. When he gets out of jail he’ll probably stay in community services accommodation.
‘I got nowhere else to go.’