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Jarrod Ross's story

Jarrod grew up in a country town in Western Australia in the mid-1980s. His father died when he was a baby and his mother struggled to raise him and his siblings on her own. She became an alcoholic and Jarrod was sent to live with his grandparents.

Jarrod described himself as a ‘very active boy’ in primary school. He loved to play sports and had a keen interest in learning about them. However, he had a knack for getting into trouble and by the time he was 10 he had already been suspended from school a few times.

Jarrod was ‘mixing with the wrong crew’ and got into trouble for stealing and breaking into homes. He said his older cousins were his biggest influence and he would often join them in their wrongdoings. He was caught by the police and was then placed under the care of the Department of Care and Protection (DCP).

In the late 1990s when he was 13, Jarrod was sent to a foster home then placed at a boys’ hostel, which he described as a ‘camp in the bush’. There was a school on site and teachers came from another town during the week. Jarrod stayed there for two years.

The home was run by Kim Donovan, a man in his 40s. Jarrod described Donovan as an ‘aggressive man’ who often yelled and punished the boys. Donovan sexually abused him at least four times while he was at the home, touching him inappropriately.

‘Sometimes he would ask me to take a walk with him to the kitchen. He tried to tell me to do [oral sex] with him … He said not to tell no one … I was a bit young to say no to him.’

Jarrod and another boy tried to run away from the home, but Donovan found them both hiding and brought them back. He tied a rope around their waists and attached the other end to a bus. Jarrod said they had to run behind the bus or they would be dragged along. He didn’t escape again after that.

During his time at the home, Jarrod was visited by the DCP once. He wasn’t interviewed alone and couldn’t tell his caseworker about the abuse. When he was 16, he was released from the home and moved back with his grandparents.

Throughout his teens and adulthood, Jarrod has abused alcohol. He has participated in low-level crimes since the age of 17 and is now in custody. He dislikes authority, suffers from depression, has self-harmed in the past, and still experiences flashbacks and nightmares. He worries about his children, who live with his partner, and is hypervigilant, constantly calling his partner for updates on his children’s lives.

Jarrod’s first disclosure of the abuse he experienced was to the Royal Commission. He hasn’t told his partner and doesn’t want to. He never reported the abuse to the police as he didn’t think anyone would believe him because of his criminal record.

Jarrod attended Alcoholics Anonymous programs in prison and found them to be beneficial. He said he wanted to ‘man up’ and ‘give up the drink’ for his children and is proud that he has achieved his goal. He can’t wait to be reunited with his family and be there for them once he is released.

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