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Hamer's story

‘Look, to be nurtured and loved by someone is something I’ve never had, in the growing up side of things’, Hamer said. ‘It was just a horrendous life, you know? My childhood was just absolutely terrible …

‘The only affection you get is sexual abuse; that’s absolutely terrible as well. But that’s all I had.’

Hamer’s mother died when he was very young, in the mid-1960s. The family was living in western Sydney. His father Ned was an alcoholic, unable to look after the kids. They ended up in different places – one with an aunty, and others in institutions. Hamer was in a residential home for a while but Ned came and got him out.

‘I think there was a deal struck … He went in and got me, Ned did, and gave me to Peter Morrison and the Morrison family, basically. And that’s how this was all done.’

Hamer was about three at the time. At first, ‘welfare people’ would turn up at the Morrisons’ place, trying to check up on Hamer. But Peter Morrison would make him hide. ‘At the end of the day they just stopped coming around.’

Peter Morrison began sexually abusing Hamer soon after he moved in. The abuse carried on for years. Hamer was also physically abused by Morrison’s wife, and neglected, going without adequate food or clothing for much of the time.

‘When you’re growing up as a kid you thought it was normal and that everyone’s going through the same sort of situation. But when the penny dropped and you started to look at other people you knew it wasn’t the case, just because of their nurturing, because of their love, you could tell by their mother, getting hugged by their dad and all that sort of stuff; you knew it wasn’t the same.’

He didn’t tell anyone what was going on at home.

‘You would just not say anything to anyone, because no one’s going to believe you, it’s simple as that … As much as I wanted to scream out to the world, “Hey, look at me, look at what’s happening to me”, I couldn’t do it because it wouldn’t have made any difference.’

Hamer’s situation was made worse when he was about 10, by another incident of abuse. He used to go regularly to the local police youth club, where he’d play table tennis and ‘what have you’. One weekend he was taken on a fishing trip by an officer from the club. It was bucketing rain the day they went - ‘Being a kid it didn’t matter; it was all part of the adventure’ – and when Hamer got soaking wet, the officer sent him to the toilets to get changed. While he was in the cubicle, naked, the officer came in and grabbed his genitals.

‘I didn’t say anything, I just pushed his hands away and basically just brushed past him and got my clothes on … He was there for sexual gratification, there was no doubt about that … To me that experience just cursed me. How can I trust a policeman? Who do I trust in life? Well, you know, there’s not too many people that I do trust.’

Hamer told Morrison what the officer had done but Morrison didn’t want to know.

‘The reason for that was … if the police got involved or what have you, or there was any problems in that sense, he might have got caught out himself.

‘So therefore all I got was this, “Get to your room, I don’t want to talk about it”, got a hiding, and that was it. And never to be spoken about again.’

For Hamer it was another lesson in powerlessness. ‘Anyone could do anything what they liked to you ... and you couldn’t say a thing. You couldn’t say anything.’ He was still being abused by Morrison at the time. ‘That was still happening and this was just another chapter.’

Eventually, Morrison’s abuse came to an end. ‘I got older. And I got stronger. And I got to a stage where, I don’t know, I just pushed him aside. I said I’m not having this shit no more. This is no good.’

As an adult, Hamer has been married twice and had children with both partners. ‘I love my kids to death’, he said.

He set out to be a better parent than the ones he’d had. ‘I swore to myself, I said I’m going to make my child’s life a million times better than what I ever had in my life.’

But the impacts of the abuse got in the way.

‘As they got older you wanted to give them a big hug and all that sort of stuff but when you’ve been sexually abused in childhood and all sort of stuff you just couldn’t do that, you know what I mean? You felt it was wrong, you know? To give your kids a hug, and tell ‘em you love ‘em, and give ‘em a kiss on the top of the head or the cheek and tell ‘em how much you really feel … It was just too difficult.’

His marriages didn’t survive either.

‘When you can’t explain to a person what’s wrong they think that they’re to blame, and then you have all these difficult situations in your life that you can’t explain so you just move on. You’ve gotta move on … And that’s what I’ve been doing all my life.’

Hamer first disclosed his abuse to his brother, just a few years ago. More recently, media reports prompted by the Royal Commission’s work triggered a breakdown at work, and led him to disclose to his employer. His employer referred him to counselling, which he didn’t find helpful. ‘I didn’t think the counsellor there was really interested.’

He hasn’t told anyone else. He never reported Morrison, who has now died, nor sought any compensation. He remains angry with the government.

‘I’m really dirty on the government. I’m so cranky with them. I put them at fault in a lot of ways with what’s happened to me in my life. And the reason I say this is because they got me into a situation where their laws were that lax that these people weren’t even looked on to find out their backgrounds or what have you. Not like today.’

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