Gerald was born and raised on an Aboriginal mission in regional Queensland, which at the time was run by an evangelical church. The residents were required to obey the mission’s superintendent, and Gerald remembers the church people as being cruel.
Gerald’s mother was ‘a dark-skinned lady, very clever in ways’, and his father, who he never met, was white. His stepfather used to abuse his mum because she had a child to a white man.
‘My mum had that many scars, she had broken arms, she has busted from my stepfather, because of my colour ... He’s that cruel to her.’ Gerald experienced, and still experiences, a great deal of harassment because of his father’s colour too.
In the early 1970s, when Gerald was 13 years old, he was raped on a number of occasions by an Aboriginal man called Toby, who was a relative of his stepfather. Gerald was ‘a skinny lad’, and Toby ‘hit me with a buckle and he wanted to keep having sex with me’.
Toby told Gerald that ‘my stepfather wouldn’t help me. He said, “Oh my uncle won’t help you, you’re a white cunt, you belong to white man”’.
When Gerald reported Toby to authorities at the mission they did nothing to assist him. The superintendent’s response was to set his dog on Gerald, and the animal bit him so badly he needed medical attention. At the hospital, he told a nurse who was stitching up the wound about the abuse too, but nothing happened.
After the second time Toby raped him, Gerald told the mission’s principal. This man said he was lying, and flogged him.
Gerald didn’t get to complete his education. ‘I didn’t have much schooling in them days ... There was only certain kids got picked to go away to a high school. I went to work, and at the age of 16 I was sent on a cattle station.’
He didn’t get any wages until he was 18 – ‘I was out in the station all the time. Slave labour. And I tell you what ... That’s a hard yakka, hard work.’
As a young man, Gerald tried to suicide a number of times. ‘I try to hang myself a couple of times in the past, and I tried to shoot myself. One day when I was young, I picked up a .22 and said, “Will I shoot myself?” I load it up, I cocked it ... But I don’t know, must be God asking me.’
Gerald also turned to drinking. ‘I was a bad alcoholic. I drank metho, I drank boot polish, I drank everything.’ Gerald ended up in trouble with the law for assaults, which were related to his drinking. ‘Alcohol gave me courage ... I just used [it] because I grew up with a hard life. I had a very hard life. I was treated like a dog by my stepfather and other people. Even the missionaries, mind you.’
Since then, Gerald has had counselling for his issues with anger management. He found this helpful, but is not seeing anyone at the moment. He hasn’t had much trouble with the law for many years now.
Gerald still lives in the community where he grew up. He married and had kids, and has worked in a number of government jobs trying to help his community. ‘I feel for kids who growing up there.’
He told the Commissioner about the community’s ongoing issues, including young girls being given drugs in return for sexual favours. Talking about his own experiences of sexual assault, he remarked ‘I don’t want to see any kid go through what happened to me’.
If Gerald should ‘ever win a Lotto’, he would consider leaving the community altogether. As he explained to the Commissioner, ‘I had a hard life, a very, very hard life, because of my colour’.
Even now, some people in his community continue to abuse him for having a white father, and he finds this very upsetting. ‘I never asked to come in the world. And it’s very hurting, brother.’