‘My mother called it my “demonic possession”. At 14 years of age, I went from running after my father, doting on him, to being completely resistant. And I went from doing really well at school to failing. I dropped out. I fell in with my peers and rejected any adults, including my parents.’
Jackson was 33 before he told his parents about being sexually abused on a scouting camp in Queensland two decades earlier. When his parents heard his disclosure, ‘It all made sense’ to them.
‘Mum said, “Oh, so that’s it”. My father was really relieved. He’d thought it was his fault. It changed my relationship with him. Now it’s great.’
It was a regular occurrence for Jackson to go on scouting camps, though usually accompanied by his father, who was one of the local scout leaders. One weekend in the mid-1980s, his father wasn’t well, so Jackson joined another troupe for a parasailing trip. The boys were supervised by scout leader Steven Green, as well as a friend he’d brought along with him for the weekend.
Jackson told the Commissioner that he couldn’t recall the name of Green’s friend, only that he told them he was a pilot. On Saturday evening an activity was organised in which boys were separated into two groups and taken into surrounding bush ‘for a walk’. Jackson was placed in the group with Green’s friend who started asking the boys about their sexual fantasies and experience with women.
The questioning went on until the man told the boys to stop and sit down. ‘He got us one by one to take our pants down, and lie on the rock and try to stimulate one another. So you had to lie there and you had a group of boys standing around you trying to make you have an erection.
'Then once you did, he let you go, and then he got us to lie down side by side in the forest while he sat on the rock, shone his torch on us and made us all masturbate together. And then we had to stand up and ejaculate in front of him, and that was over and he was happy with us then.’
The boys were told that was their ‘initiation’, but that they weren’t to tell their parents about it because ‘they wouldn’t understand’.
Jackson said the man made the boys shower while he watched. He told them they should hurry up lest Green ‘come and rape you’. He continued to make disparaging remarks and threats about Green, which Jackson thought was an attempt to make himself look like the boys’ protector.
On Sunday afternoon, the man hugged Jackson and told him he was ‘a good boy’. He invited him to go camping with him and Green again, but Jackson said his parents wouldn’t let him, because they thought Green was ‘a bit weird’.
In the schoolyard a few days later, Jackson saw another boy who’d been part of the weekend away. ‘We passed each other in the courtyard and looked at each other, and we both had this bad feeling, like that wasn’t good. And then the penny dropped. I’ve never been so flabbergasted in my life.’
Jackson said his feelings of fear and confusion about the incident transformed on the spot to shame and anger. He wondered why he’d ‘let him do that’, and felt deeply embarrassed.
‘I went home and fell apart, thinking, “What do I do?” I let him do that to me. I was really ashamed that I was so naive, and I had thoughts like if he had wanted to rape me, would I have let him? And I thought, "Well yeah, I would have because I was a stupid little kid".’
As a means of dealing with his anger, Jackson decided he would no longer trust adults. ‘My whole world had fallen apart.’ He stopped studying, dropped out of school and by 16 had been kicked out of home.
Between 16 and 24, Jackson said he ‘was a bit mad’. He lived in squats, became enmeshed in violent social groups and scenes, and freely used drugs and alcohol. At 24, he decided he needed to do something about the panic attacks he was having.
‘I started looking for something and came across Buddhism. I decided I need to do something otherwise I’m not going to last. I cleaned my act up, I stopped using heroin, stopped drinking. Drinking was the biggest problem for me, and I started trying to get really healthy and then I tried fix my mind.’
In the early 2010s, Jackson contacted Scouts Queensland to ask for information about Green and the man who’d accompanied him on the camping trip. He received a reply stating the association was unable to divulge information about either Green or the man. Jackson said he was now considering seeing a lawyer and reporting the incident to Queensland Police.
‘I lost two decades of my life to dysfunction’, Jackson said. ‘I didn’t snap out of it till my 30s ... It’s been really hard work. There’s been a lot of grief – and learning to trust people again, it took me so long but I feel like I did it.’