Ginny's story

Ginny grew up in a small town in regional Victoria in the 1950s, in what she described as an idyllic life.

‘I was very, very close to my father and my memories are pretty much all of doing stuff with my father … The world was pretty perfect, it seemed to me, up until I was six or seven. Then this incident happened.

‘My sister was in this gymnastics squad … and this Albert Crall, he was her class teacher and he also organised this squad. He was the most popular teacher in the school and he had a way of getting the best out of kids, and this squad did really well.’

One evening, the squad had gone to another venue and Ginny went back to the school with her father to unload the equipment into the shed.

‘I went in there and I was mucking around playing on the [pommel] horse. I was sitting up on that and no-one else was in there and Albert Crall came into the shelter shed, and he started kissing and fondling me. I didn't know what to think. I thought I was really special, but I also knew something was wrong, but I didn't know what was wrong.

‘I also knew that my father, who I adored, was on the other side of the shelter shed. So I kind of felt this really weird sense of betrayal, but I didn't understand what betrayal was. I'm not sure how long it went on for, but then someone else came in and that was … I never told anybody.’

Not long after, Ginny’s father died suddenly of a heart attack, and she fell apart. Crall often came to their house after her dad’s death, but she’s not sure if anything happened as she has blocked out a lot of that time. She refused to go to school, and her mother took her to the GP.

‘He explained what truancy was and he said that it was an offence and that he would have the police watching, which, looking back on it, is almost worse than what happened at the shelter shed. I never told that to anybody because I was so ashamed.’

After a year, through ‘sheer grit’, Ginny forced herself to go back to school and ended up doing very well. But she said she had a very troubled childhood and adolescence.

‘When I was 16, I got worse and worse in terms of depression and just couldn't see the point any more. And I got suicidal. I had never been to a doctor since that one, when I was seven … Mum convinced me that I needed to go to a doctor and there was a new doctor who was in the town, who was kind of more, not in the mould of the old doctors …

‘He understood me. It was the first time I had heard the word "grief". I didn't know what grief was, or I didn't know the name. But he started a relationship with me. That went on for 10 years.’

Ginny said despite the abuse of trust, she took the shame about the relationship on herself because the GP was married with children, and it was a very small town. Once she met her future husband, she went to the GP and broke it off.

‘All I know was that there was white-hot anger, I don't remember anything else. In a way again, it was worse than that six-year-old abuse.’

The years went on, Ginny had children and, on the surface, things were fine, although she has seen psychiatrists over the years and has spent many years on and off anti-depressants. Then, in the early 2010s, she got a phone call from a woman wanting to contact her sister about a gymnastics reunion.

‘My sister rang me back later in the day and she was so shocked and she said, “That's not about a reunion at all. Did you know Albert Crall is a paedophile?” I said I did …

‘I rang up the lady and she just told me these horrific details of abuse all over country Victoria and him being moved from primary school to primary school and he moved on to raping teenage girls and taking them out in the country, and that a number had suicided, that they had taken him to court on a number of occasions and somehow he had always managed to get away.

‘She told me that and then she gave me the name of the policeman that they had been dealing with and I rang him up and he was really good and I talked with him. He asked me would I be part of some other sort of action, which will prove that it did start very early on, but I just couldn't. I had three little kids.’

Ginny has since told her children about Crall, but she is still too ashamed to tell them about the doctor, because in some ways he did help her at what was a difficult time. Her husband knows about both.

‘I met someone just accidentally one day from the school, maybe 10 years ago or something, and I sort of alluded to the stuff with Albert Crall and she said, “Oh, yeah, that was common knowledge”. I didn't know that …

‘When I look back on that era of childhood and adolescence, with what I know now, I've heard … that there was a minister who was a paedophile, there was a swimming coach who was, there was a swimming pool attendant who was. One of our neighbours had a go at me one time. It's sort of like it really must have been a dark era in especially country towns, because in some ways it's easier to get away with … They just got moved on … It’s toxic.’

Ginny now works in a field where mandatory reporting is a requirement. She has had to act on that herself, and she acknowledges that doing so ‘doesn’t win you friends in some quarters’. But she said while Working with Children checks are useful, they will only pick up people who have already offended.

‘I guess my question is, everything in the media is about punishment or rehabilitation, but what is there in the way of prevention? There must be another frontier, which is how do you come out as being attracted to children before you have actually offended? … There must be a point at which it can be stopped before the first offence happens.’

For Ginny, while she says there are thoughts and feelings that will never go away, she has found a way to fight through.

‘I think it's the love of a few key people in my life at the times that were needed … I think the power of someone loving you and believing in you can never be underestimated.’

Content updating Updating complete