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Isaac Ross's story

As the only boy in the family Isaac was physically abused by his father, a ‘vicious man’, whenever something went wrong. By the time he was nine in the early 1950s he had started to run away. In his early teens he was placed into state care and sent to a Salvation Army boys’ training home in a small Queensland town.

Life at the home was violent and cruel. Isaac was bashed by several different officers, leaving scars on his body. He absconded from the home a number of times, but was always brought back and punished.

Shortly after his arrival Isaac came into contact with Gregory Gayle and Sam Uchino, officers who supervised his dormitory. Both of these men sexually abused him on several occasions, touching him inappropriately and attempting to have sex with him. Isaac was also approached by another resident, who was older.

‘All these characters, the workers and the older boys, were just after dirty sex.’

Isaac couldn’t disclose the abuse because ‘there was no one to tell’. After being approached by the older boy he ran away again. The police found him at his grandmother’s home and brought him back. He was put in jail for a short time, then transferred to a children’s correctional centre.

Half of the staff at the centre were ‘returned soldiers’ and violent towards the boys. He recalls being hit with a belt by a worker until he bled, and being forced to shower with the other residents.

Isaac attempted to run away from the correctional centre on several occasions, and was beaten by the workers ‘every single time’ he was returned. He was frightened by some of the other residents and felt he was surrounded by ‘violent criminals’ in the making. Several workers and residents approached him for sex but he never complied.

When Isaac was 18 he was dismissed from the correctional centre and moved out into the country. He worked in several different types of jobs away from ‘big cities’ and met his wife.

‘Living out in the bush helped me. There’s different types of people there.’

Throughout his adult life Isaac has experienced many financial problems. He has also suffered a series of health issues, and his marriage broke down in the 1980s.

It wasn’t until recently that Isaac disclosed the details of his abuse for the first time. He saw a newspaper article about the correctional centre in which former residents described their experiences, and it brought back memories of what had happened to him. He then contacted the reporter and was put in touch with the other residents he knew at the institution.

Isaac engaged in civil action against the Salvation Army and received $25,000 in compensation. He also received an additional $5,000 when his case was reviewed a couple of months later. Isaac never reported his abusers to the police as the officers are likely to be deceased.

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