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Harley Wayne's story

Harley was born in the 1980s and grew up in regional Queensland. His mother Susana accompanied him when he met with the Commissioner, helping him to provide information about his experiences in care.

For a few years during his childhood Harley was placed under the care and protection of family services, and stayed in several institutions. When he was around 11 years old, Harley was placed into a residential facility for children with behavioural problems, due to his ADHD, oppositional defiant disorder and other issues.

While at the home Harley had not been given the medications he usually took to manage his behaviour, which had been prescribed by his ‘child psychiatrist’.

Family Services had decided he did not need them. Susana explained ‘They just refused doctor’s orders, and mine. It was very heartbreaking to see my son go through all this, when it didn’t have to happen’.

In particular, one ‘young ignorant case worker stated to my face that she knew best, that the specialist was wrong to prescribe this medication – which has resulted in our ongoing nightmare’. Ultimately Susana feels ‘my son was abused because he was neglected’.

During this stay Harley was ‘preyed upon’ and raped by a boy who was around five years older than him. He did not tell anyone what had happened.

Another child had witnessed the incident however, and reported it to the carers, who then reported it to police. Susana understands that when he attended the police station ‘no adults went with him, he was not on his medication. So he said he clammed up, because of his disability’.

Harley thinks the department tried to provide him with counselling ‘but I could never talk about it ... it just made it worse at the time’. Reflecting upon this, he thinks counselling might be useful now – ‘I can only try’.

He started drinking alcohol and used a lot of marijuana and amphetamines, estimating he would have spent close to a million dollars on drugs in a decade. As he has overdosed on prescription medication, the mental health service providers will not give it to him anymore. This lack of access to treatment again is frustrating for Susana.

‘Mental health need a big shake up, family services need a big shake up.’

Although Harley did not receive much schooling he completed a trade qualification, but has been unable to maintain work, and hopes one day he will be given a ‘fair go’ at employment. ‘You get positive outcomes when you’re working. You feel better about yourself, some purpose, stamina and motivation.’

Currently he is applying for housing, experiences suicidal ideation, is prohibited from seeing his children, and does not feel he has a great deal to look forward to. Susana doesn’t think there is any hope for them in the future at all. ‘It’s too late for us, isn’t it?’

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