‘I rebelled against religion, I said God didn’t exist and I threw the Bible at one of the officers. I was made to eat that, page by page, every day for breakfast.’
In the early 1960s, when Jimmie was eight, he and his siblings were made wards of the state. They were sent to a children’s home in Victoria, a violent place which Jimmie described as a prison. On his first night there he was approached by a worker, who asked Jimmie to touch his genitals. When Jimmie refused he was bashed.
'[He] struck [me] many times in the head until I was rendered unconscious … told me if I told what happened he would kill me.’
After several weeks, Jimmie and his brothers were sent to a boys’ home in another town, which was run by the Salvation Army. He was devastated because he was kept separate from his brothers. He was flogged daily. He lost count of how many times the officers forced him to strip down to his underwear before bashing him in front of the other kids. On one occasion he was beaten so severely that he bled, and later was beaten again for getting blood on his bed sheets.
‘They just used to bash us all the time, [even] the teachers … If you wanted to go to the toilet during class you get six straps on the hand. A lot of the kids used to sit there and wet themselves.’
Jimmie was 10 when he came into direct contact with Sargent Carsten. One night, he was asked to come into Carsten’s room. He dared not disobey because he didn’t want to be punished. Jimmie was molested and raped.
The abuse occurred every week for a year. He didn’t know what to do. After the third rape, he disclosed the abuse to another worker, Peter Walsh, who was in charge of the home. Jimmie thought Walsh was one of the kinder workers who might understand. However he wasn't believed and was punished.
Several months after the abuse began, Jimmie started to fight back. He would often run away from Carsten, trying to escape his grip. He remembers hitting Carsten in the testicles several times. Finally, Carsten stopped pursuing him.
Jimmie and the other boys didn’t discuss the abuse, but rather, they warned each other off certain perpetrators. There was one officer, Trevor White, who would hang around the sick bay and molest the boys. Another officer, Mr Piper, would come to the home and take boys out for a car trip.
‘We felt like … we were responsible for it so we never really used to talk about it other than, “Watch out for him and for him”.’
When Jimmie was 15 he was dismissed from the home. He lived on the streets for several years and prides himself that he never touched drugs or alcohol. In his mid-20s, Jimmie met his first wife and they settled down together. He wanted their relationship to be honest, so he disclosed the abuse.
‘She told me that I was gay and that I probably deserved it … She was so compassionate that woman.’
Throughout his adulthood, Jimmie has felt low self-esteem and has had difficulty maintaining relationships. He has been diagnosed with PTSD and depression. He was over-protective of his own children when they were growing up. Whenever he hears adults verbally abusing their children, it triggers memories of being in the home. ‘They remind me of myself’, he said.
Jimmie describes himself as vigilant. He has protected other children from predators in the past. One such occasion was when he came face to face with Trevor White in the mid-1980s. Jimmie beat him up in front of many witnesses, and was arrested as a result.
However, he told the police about White’s past which prompted an investigation. ‘What goes around comes around … I had a good day.’
Jimmie wasn’t convicted of assault, but rather provided evidence against White. The police found that White had several counts of child sexual abuse complaints against him. White was charged and jailed for his crimes.
In the mid-2000s Jimmie made a complaint against the Salvation Army and received $9,000 after legal fees. In the early 2010s, he also participated in a class action with several other victims from the home. He was disgusted when they all received just $7,000 compensation each.
‘That was a slap in the face. So that’s less than half a cent a day. Pretty good for being molested.’
Jimmie has found solace in helping others. He is involved with various charities and other foundations. He will do whatever he can to ensure child sexual abuse never occurs again.
‘The more I get kicked, the more I stand up and do something about it … I’m not going to lay down and die for anyone – not yet.’