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Jaime's story

Jaime grew up in Sydney and Newcastle in the 1970s. Trouble with the police started early. ‘Just hanging around with the wrong blokes, I think’, Jaime told the Commissioner. ‘Getting up to mischief. Bored.’ By age 10 he’d been charged with stealing. When he was about 12 he appeared before the Children’s Court a number of times and was sent to a juvenile detention home in Sydney’s west.

Jaime described the home as a ‘horrible place’. It was violent. Everyone – staff and inmates – was aggressive and uncaring. One day Jaime hurt his leg and ended up in the infirmary after being sent for an X-ray. The infirmary was supervised by a nurse, Mr Lobo. ‘He used to put a hand down your pants and check your testicles. He’d done that a couple of times.’ Jaime had assumed the groping was a normal medical examination.

On this occasion Lobo told Jaime he could stay in the infirmary for a few nights. ‘Later on that night he said, “Are you in pain?” I said, “A little bit” and he said, “I’ll get you some painkillers”. He got me some tablets and, of course, I trusted him.

‘I got woken up a bit later on and things just weren’t right, what he was doing.

‘My pants were removed down to my ankles … and he was raping me and being a filthy disgusting person. I woke up and I yelled, and he put his hand over my mouth – he nearly smothered me to death and I nearly passed out.’

Jaime lay in bed distraught and crying until morning. He was made to wait until a doctor had examined his leg before he could escape to his dormitory. Jaime said nothing to the doctor about his abuse. Lobo had threatened him.

‘[He said] he could make me disappear if I was to say anything … and make it look like I’d absconded. And that he’s got my family’s address, and he could get to them and whatever. I was just, I dunno, I’m shaking now just thinking about it. I was in another world.’

Jaime served the last few months of his time in the home in fear of Lobo. He avoided further abuse by refusing to go near the infirmary.

When he returned to his family, Jaime did not mention the rape. ‘I was too embarrassed and too scared. He knew where I lived and I just didn’t know what would happen. I wouldn’t leave the house. Mum knew something was wrong, but I just couldn’t say anything.’

Jaime left school when he was 14, unable to concentrate on study and unwilling to be around other people. He started getting into even more trouble.

‘My parents said that I was uncontrollable and stuff. I don’t know what I was thinking. I was just stealing Dad’s beer and anything I could drink, and smoking pot and whatever.’ Jaime served some more time in juvenile detention. When he was 19, Jaime moved out of home.

He has not been able to maintain any relationships. Jaime has children but is in contact with none of them. The pattern of substance abuse has continued all his life. ‘Drank. Used drugs. Tried to work but I couldn’t hold a job down. Just kept getting sacked because I was drunk all the time.’ Jaime has also spent a lot of time in prison, starting in his mid-20s.

Jaime has not yet had counselling specifically for the abuse he suffered. He has had help for various mental conditions, but shame and embarrassment have kept him from disclosing the details of the rape to his doctors.

‘I’ve lived this sort of lifestyle ever since it happened. Would I have lived like this if it didn’t? I don’t know.’

Jaime hopes the Royal Commission will make a difference. He strongly believes children should not be dealt with alone by adults, or even by pairs of adults. He argues there should be three adults present to be really safe. ‘As much as the governments might say, “Hey, we can’t afford the wages”, well, what would they rather? I know what the victim would rather.’

Support services are in place to assist Jaime when he is released from prison. He is determined not to re-offend and wants to seek counselling to help put his childhood trauma behind him.

‘I’ve never dealt with this in my past and I’m trying to get my life right. I’m trying to have a normal future, whatever that is. I believe I can address the drugs and alcohol, but I need to get this out of me to have a normal life.’

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