Giles remembers his 1970s childhood home as ‘like Never Never Land’. He grew up in New South Wales as part of a big family, with many brothers and sisters living with his father. His mother left them all when he was very young.
Welfare workers were involved with his family from early on. Giles remembers a welfare officer coming to his home to do an assessment. This officer took him swimming, showed him pornography, threatened him, and screamed at him.
When he was 14 Giles spent three months living on the streets and was then sent to a home for delinquent boys. While there he was sexually abused by a worker, Mr Lucas. The overall treatment of the boys was also very harsh: on the weekends he went ‘crow shooting’ – code for hard labour picking up rocks.
He also recalled having to shovel coal into the furnace until 10 or 11 o’clock at night after dry scrubbing the dormitory floor all day. ‘You needed permission to speak, permission to do anything.’ Staff would flick a coin onto his bed and if the coin didn’t bounce, the bed had to be re-made.
Giles says that the same welfare officer who had initially abused him collected him from the boys’ home. He was again abused. ‘It was worse than you can imagine.’
Giles was a smart student and impressed his teachers in his early years. But following the sexual abuse he lost interest in school, and now regrets his unfinished education and missed opportunities.
‘I went and hid in the bush. Built a humpy in the bush. That’s where I stayed, until I was 18.’
Giles began abusing drugs in his 30s. He has a history of minor criminal offences, and is alcohol dependent and an active IV drug user. He suffers from nightmares and major lung problems. ‘You get to a point where everything is a struggle.’ He has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.
For some years Giles tried to keep in touch with some of the other boys he spent time with in the boys’ home. ‘It’s no good now. They’re either dead or drug-fucked.’
Contacting the Royal Commission has been Giles’s first attempt to report his abuse.
He is angry with the predators he still meets in his dreams. ‘Who are these people? They destroyed my life just so they can have five minutes of pleasure. I believe God has got a special place ready for them.’