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Jimmy Stuart's story

‘I come to jail at 23 for murder, you know. Alcohol and drug abuse took me over. As a kid I just hated everybody because they should’ve got me out of there and … fostered me out. I was getting chased with knives at home, and I was getting sexually abused out of home. I just had nowhere to go … Yeah, it was a hard one.’

Jimmy told the Commissioner, ‘My father was a very abusive male … We lived a very strict existence as a kid. We weren’t allowed to have friends and all that … The welfare knocked on our door [one day] and took me and my brother away, saying he was unfit to be a parent, and we both become wards of the state’.

Despite having committed no crime, Jimmy was sent to a youth training centre in Victoria in the late 1980s. ‘It wasn’t right that we lived with him, [but] we should’ve been fostered out and not put in boys’ homes under a protection order.’ Jimmy was 14 when he was made a ward of the state.

At the youth training centre, Jimmy ‘suffered some sexual abuse and violence’ at the hands of other inmates. ‘We were forced to give head jobs, masturbate. I actually got raped a few times … We were very mixed-up kids because of our family and stuff, but we weren’t crims. I’d never done anything wrong by that time … but not only did I get sexually abused by other [inmates], I got physically belted by the screws as well.’

Jimmy’s brother was released from the centre and went to live with their mother, but ‘they tried to say that there was something wrong with me mentally’. Jimmy was sent to another training centre, where he was again sexually abused by other inmates.

When he was released from the centre at 17, Jimmy returned to stay with his father. It wasn’t long before he was living on the streets but he was able to keep out of trouble with the law. Eventually, however, drugs and alcohol abuse led to a life in jail. In the previous 20 years, Jimmy had only been out of jail for three weeks.

‘I’m a very antisocial person. I stay in my cell 24/7. I don’t get money. I’m not interested in talking about the one that got away, so I really got nothing in common with crims. I do me art and I’m a muso. I’ve wrote music and lyrics my whole life.’

Jimmy would like to apply for compensation for what happened to him in the youth training centres, ‘strictly because the welfare should have taken me away from it all. And you know, after all that, they gave me back to [my father]. They put me through [the youth training centres] and then gave me back to him’.

Speaking to the Royal Commission was the first time Jimmy had spoken about the sexual abuse he experienced. ‘I only started opening up about it in a big scale lately … I’m still physically damaged because of it.’

He also suffers from mental health issues and is currently taking antidepressants.

Jimmy told the Commissioner, ‘I could have had an easier life than I did, than I scored. I truly believe that if I wasn’t so brutally brought up the way I was, I wouldn’t be in here for now.

'Like, they always blame people and say, “It’s your choice. It’s your choice. It’s your choice”. But sometimes you just – you’re brought up a certain way, you know?’

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