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Jamison's story

Jamison’s earliest memories are of life in institutions. His mother, who was a teenager at his birth, abandoned him before he was two, and he entered a Brisbane nursing home suffering from malnourishment.

‘The one thing I remember is the time when, sitting and I presume playing under a tree out front of the home, a few of us kids were observing a trail of grubs with long hairy things sticking out from them, nose to tail trailing up the tree. Somehow, don’t ask me how, a complete nest of “itchy grubs” fell atop of us. Boy, do I remember the itching!’

After passing through several church facilities, at age nine Jamison was sent to an Anglican boys’ home. Here he was sexually molested by Mr Williams, the now-deceased ‘boss of the home’.

‘I recall being made to take off my clothes and run around the paddock naked … When I showered I was very self-conscious because I had not been circumcised. Mr Williams would stand at the doorway and stare at me.

‘I remember lying on a padded bench in some sort of treatment room with pain in my groin area: something had been done to me that caused pain or to be scared.’

Jamison believes the institution harmed him in other ways as well. ‘By the time I was adopted I was four years behind with my schooling. I never recall doing homework – there was nowhere there we could have done it … Since then I’ve had severe anxiety concerning exams. In these settings I’ve always experienced mental blackouts and failed.’

The abuse ceased when word came through that Jamison, now 11, was to be adopted. The boy was overjoyed at the prospect of a real family living on a rural Queensland property.

‘It was about the August school holidays that I was flown out to a nearby town. To this day I can still see my adoptive father through the aircraft window as we were taxiing in, standing on the edge of the tarmac of the typical country airport, basically just a big shed.

‘To fly all that way was such a thrill for me, but to see my “Dad” standing there so proud, it felt so good.’

Sadly, family life lasted less than two years, being split asunder by the death of Jamison’s new mother. His adoptive father fulfilled his obligation in making sure Jamison completed boarding school but otherwise wasn't a father to the boy. ‘He was a bit of a redneck, actually – I couldn’t talk to him.’

Jamison went on to join the armed services. Later, after he married, he and his wife worked with children and youth from institutions who had been abused. For many years he hid his own experiences.

‘I couldn’t tell anyone for so long. And there are still things that are blocked away.’

Now divorced, Jamison has lived alone for more than a decade. ‘Relationships, I can’t stand them any more: too many problems,’ he concludes.

Just after the turn of the century, Jamison made a submission to the Forde Inquiry into child abuse in Queensland institutions. The experience left him ‘very sceptical about government-run inquiries’; he feels that some people working there ‘don't have the appropriate skills to ask the right questions of people who have been institutionalised most of their lives’.

Though he obtained some financial compensation, Jamison believes the settlement was inadequate. ‘I blame the Church for their stinginess … I’ve started to realise how much damage was done to me, physically and psychologically … My anger isn’t just about the paedophilia, it’s the lack of proper education, the lack of proper care.’

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