‘I’m only doing it so the next generation of kids don’t have it like me. When I was 14 years old I was kicked out of home and since then, since I was 16 when I came to Brisbane as a homeless kid and went to the youth shelter and it happened again, and since then I’ve had nothing but broken relationships, a life of crime. I feel angry about it and I just don’t want any other kid to go through and suffer the same thing. And I’ve just found out recently I’ve got a two-month-old son, haven’t even got to meet him yet but God forbid that he ends up homeless. I don’t want him to go through what I’ve been through.’
After an argument with his parents in the early 1990s, Jackson was told to leave home. ‘My dad grabbed me by the throat, threw me up against the wall. He goes, “Look, you get the eff out of this house. We don’t want you. Don’t come back”.’
Jackson was 14 when he found himself homeless. He went to a youth shelter in a regional town in New South Wales and during the six or so months he was there he was sexually abused by one of the workers, Adrian Deakin.
Deakin regularly provided Jackson and other boys with alcohol and drugs.
‘What really happened, ‘cause you’d be drunk or stoned whatever it is, and start waking up but you feel a hand touching you and all that until it gets further and more like fingers in places they shouldn’t be and touching you, and then if you were on your own that’s when it would get really bad, like you’d wake up with your pants around your legs, not knowing what’s happened.
‘And then when we reported it – me and another boy reported it, Jeremy – the lady said, “I’ll have to look into it”, and a month went by, two months went by, six months went by and he was still there.’
When nothing was done about Deakin, Jackson ‘took off’ and went to Brisbane.
‘I couldn’t handle it no more. Like I’d just been kicked out of home, I had no one else. This lady said she was going to help us, wasn’t doing nothing. I wasn’t going to report it to the police ‘cause you get raised back in them days, you were supposed to be tough. You don’t talk. You don’t dob. So I did what came natural - escaped from it. Try and escape from it and try somewhere else.’
In a youth refuge in Brisbane, Jackson was harassed by one of the workers, Ross, who used to slap him on the buttocks and touch him all the time.
After a short period he’d had enough of that too and told a friend he was leaving the shelter. ‘I said, “I just can’t handle him touching me”. I says, “I don’t sleep no more. I’m always sad and depressed”, and I took off and went back to New South Wales.’
Homeless once again, Jackson became involved in crime and began to experience mental and physical health issues. He described having problems with relationships and never really trusting other people. One of his partners told him that he needed to ‘open up’.
‘We were together for about two to three years, but on and off, and she just said recently to me, she goes, “You know, if you open up and speak about your life”, she goes, “we would have had a chance”. I said to her, “I can’t”.’
Jackson spoke to the Commissioner from jail. Prior to his current sentence, he’d been seeing a mental health team in the community and had disclosed the abuse to a psychologist. He reported that the medication he’d been taking outside hadn’t been given to him in jail for several months because staff were awaiting the transfer of his medical file from interstate.
Thinking about the abuse ‘makes me sad’, Jackson said. ‘I get broken, I get just a dark burning anger in me. I feel ashamed, I feel weak, I feel worthless, not quite a man like, I don’t know, I should have got up and fought or did something.’
When Jackson had told his parents about the sexual abuse, they’d replied, ‘you can’t blame us for that’. He hadn’t had contact with them since.
Though many times he’d wanted to act on the anger he felt, Jackson said the thought of seeing and holding his son stopped him.
‘Normally I wouldn’t do these things – break down and speak about things - but I don’t want any more kids who end up they can’t escape from what I go through. And I’ve got a newborn son, but God forbid I would not want him to go through what I have done.’