Grantley's story

Grantley and his family moved to Queensland in the early 1990s, when he was 11 years old. With anger management problems and a tendency to run away from home, he was diagnosed with ADHD and treated with medication. This treatment did little to reduce his behavioural issues however. ‘I was put under the care of child safety because I was constantly running away, getting into trouble, always in trouble with police.’

After changing primary schools several times, and being expelled from high school, he was eventually put into care after being expelled from high school. At 14, after running away from various different foster homes, he was placed in a boys’ home run by the De La Salle Brothers.

His caseworker told him the home was a good environment with its own school and lots of activities, including horse riding.

‘First week passed by and everything was fine and in the end of the second week the cottage foster parents went away overnight or something. There was fill-in parents. I was dragged into my room, had my head shoved into the pillow. I was assaulted at the time and I was told if I’d said anything it would be a lot worse. Somebody else went and notified Brother Murray, who came in the next morning and I was removed from that unit.’

Grantley could not identify his attacker and the incident was never reported to the police. Rather, he was simply moved to a different unit and the matter was never pursued.

He made several unsuccessful attempts to run away from the home, which resulted in his whole unit being punished. This was met with violence from his fellow residents. ‘I was physically assaulted by other residents in that cottage while the cottage parents stood inside and watched.’

When Grantley didn’t do well in school he was punished by being ‘stripped naked, placed into a little room at the end of one of the cottages. Had no carpet, just cement floor, three walls, a window and a door. Placed in there for hours’.

As promised by his caseworker, horse riding was one of the activities offered – but the reality of this activity was not nearly as much fun as he expected.

‘I had been assaulted with the stock whips, been made to carry rocks many kilometres back to the house, pushed off the horse, made to carry the saddle and attacked. I was out in some stables and one of the employees drove towards me with the van and, as I tried to get out of the way, I’m not too sure who the passenger was but the passenger hit me on the side of the head and knocked me underneath the van. At that time I was sent down to what they called the doctor, who examined my entire body, fondled my testicles and all that sort of stuff.’

Sexual abuse of the boys by staff was common at the home. ‘You would see other residents coming back bagfuls of lollies, gobstoppers, cigarettes, all assortment of things. And you would know why they were given that.’

Grantley stayed at the home for two years. After being released from care he resorted to drugs and alcohol, had numerous encounters with the law, and repeatedly tried to commit suicide. ‘I had multiple suicide attempts. I woke up every day and the first thing I did was started drinking and then started with the drugs. I was arrested time and time again.’

‘It took me a long time to be able to discuss what had happened at the home. I have flashbacks and things like that of stuff that had happened. I have been admitted to hospital a few times because I’ve tried to commit suicide different ways.’

‘I tried to hang myself once and [my ex-partner] walked in, asked me why. And that’s when I had to tell her. Not a great deal of people know what has happened or when things have happened.’

In addition to his ex-partner, with whom he has children, Grantley has also disclosed the abuse to his mother, grandmother, and some of his siblings.

‘I came to prison and … the doctors in prison figured out that not only did I have PTSD, depression, anxiety, anger management problems, but I also had anti-social personality behavioural disorder. And they put me on some medication because they figured it would help in regards to the flashbacks, the paranoia around people. But it didn’t take too long for me to figure out that it wasn’t helping. It was stopped. Things were tried to be managed differently, but there’s not one day that I wake up and not think about what happened in [the home]. Not one day.’

Some years ago it was recommended that Grantley apply for compensation from the Queensland state redress scheme, but at the time he was not interested. However after seeing a program on television about abuse at the home he instructed a lawyer to act on his behalf. Civil proceedings have commenced and the De La Salle Brothers have offered $230,000 inclusive of legal costs. More important to Grantley was the letter of apology he received, acknowledging the abuse he suffered.

‘I’ve got the one thing that I asked for. I told the solicitors that whatever money comes about comes about, but the one thing that was most important to me was getting a letter of apology – which I got.’

Although Grantley is in prison and still trying to cope with his significant mental health problems, he is working on rehabilitating himself for the benefit of himself and his children.

‘It’s been almost five years since I had a drink. Almost five years since I touched illegal drugs. I can’t sit here and say that one day I may wake up and attempt suicide … I can’t say that won’t happen. I can’t say if I’ll ever be able to deal with it, manage it better. At the end of the day the one thing that really stops me from trying to kill myself again is the fact that I’ve got children of my own.’

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