Jeremiah was a baby when he was made a ward of the state, and spent several years living on a Methodist-run mission north of Perth. There was a river to swim in, but no brothers and sisters or visitors. He was all on his own.
Jeremiah had been sexually abused at the mission, but he did not wish to speak about this at his private session at the Royal Commission.
In the early 1960s, when Jeremiah was a young boy, he was adopted by two non-Indigenous mission workers, Angela and Bob. Jeremiah said that the couple were ‘pretty nasty. Used to get hit’. When the Commissioner referred to her notes regarding the couple’s sexual abuse and physical beatings of him, and his behavior at school, Jeremiah continued to be shy and silent. When asked how he had coped, he said that he didn’t know. He didn’t have anyone to help him, and he didn’t tell anyone.
Jeremiah ran away from his adoptive parents when he was in his mid-teens. When the Commissioner referred to her notes regarding his time in juvenile and adult prisons, he remained silent. When asked about his working life, he said ‘I had a few jobs’.
About seven or eight years ago, Jeremiah spoke about his abuse for the first time when he applied for redress under the Redress WA scheme. However, he was deemed to be ineligible for compensation. ‘Couldn’t get it ‘cause I was adopted out’, he said.
When he’d thought about the impact of his institutionalisation and abuse, Jeremiah said ‘taken away from my mother’. As an adult, he met his birth mother and siblings, but having grown up without a family bond, he was unable to maintain these relationships.
Jeremiah has never had counselling. Nor does he want any in the future. He would rather ‘forget all about it’.