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Jocelyn Lynette's story

In a written statement Jocelyn told the Royal Commission, ‘My story begins the day I was dumped by my mother, left cold and hungry, alone, abandoned by my family and placed into a world that changed my life from this day forward’.

Jocelyn’s last memory of her mother was when she was nine years old, watching her being driven away from a Salvation Army girls’ home in a taxi, in Victoria in the early 1960s. She ‘never laid eyes on the woman again’. Up until the day she was placed in the home, ‘I thought we actually had quite a normal, happy childhood’.

Jocelyn told the Commissioner, ‘That home was a horrible place. It was a cruel place … filled with paedophiles, harsh women and a neglect for innocent children. A place where broken hearts were made and where they will never heal … not now, not ever’.

Jocelyn was sexually abused on numerous occasions during her 12 years as a ward of the state. Her first abuser was a man in his 40s who visited the girls’ home to take girls on outings. It was on one of these trips that he raped her. In those days there were no checks or supervision, and anyone could turn up at the reception desk and ask to take girls out for the day.

On a visit to an American naval ship, Jocelyn was once again raped. She remembers being ‘hauled away … and being told, “Come with me and we’ll have some ice-cream”, by sailors. And it happened … yes, it did. On the boat’. Jocelyn was about 10 or 11 at the time.

Jocelyn told the Commissioner she was also sexually abused by at least three older girls at the home. She still remembers their names.

‘You can sort of understand when you’re a young, little vulnerable girl … any sort of affection you get from somebody is … it’s nice to be cuddled and loved … but … I always knew I was uncomfortable with it.’

During the three or four years she lived at the home, Jocelyn was often fostered out during school holidays. ‘It was horrific. I hated it. I remember going to one house … It was pretty bad.’ It was during these holiday visits that she was again abused, by ‘older men’.

Jocelyn told the Commissioner that she was fostered out many times, mostly to ‘unkind humans who used having a foster child as a ruse … People who harmed me. They abused me and molested me. I was beaten often and I was left feeling worthless and unloved … I was mentally abused by the matron and the staff at the Salvation Army girls’ home … The government and the home let us down’.

When Jocelyn was 12 or 13 she was fostered by a well-to-do family, and she lived with them until she was 19. She never had a bedroom of her own in this house. Instead, she slept on the landing of the staircase.

The oldest son of her foster parents had a physical disability, and was much older than Jocelyn. After he abused her, she ‘went downstairs and said what had happened and they said, “Oh, you dirty little liar” … whacked me over the back legs with a feather duster’. However after she told them, there was occasional ‘brushing up against you … trying to touch you’, but no ‘major’ abuse.

Jocelyn told the Commissioner, ‘Physically and emotionally, long-term effects from the trauma have affected my daily life from being … a ward of the state, a nobody. My childhood is lost. My youth is lost. My life is a mess of confusion, with horrid memories to reflect … with the guilt of trauma’. Although Jocelyn was in the care of the state for so many years, she doesn’t recall ever being visited by a caseworker during the time she was in foster care.

Jocelyn has multiple emotional and physical problems and ‘I have no trust in anybody in this whole world, except myself’. She suffers from poor health, panic attacks and depression, and she relies heavily on alcohol and, at times, sedatives.

‘I am miserable and sad. I have certain thoughts. I’m a failure. It’s not my fault … I’m worthless. Life’s not worth living. People would be better off without me.’

When Jocelyn saw an advertisement in the early 2000s calling for girls who had lived in Salvation Army homes to contact a firm of solicitors, she phoned them. This ‘opened up a whole can of worms, because I had never really spoken about it before’. Doing this caused her to have ‘a bit of a mental breakdown’, after which she went through three months of ‘pretty intense sexual abuse counselling, which was really good for me’.

Jocelyn worries about the future. ‘I am worried about aged care. I have no income. At all … I have nothing. I live isolated … in the middle of the bush, because I am overcome by fear … I want the government to acknowledge that what happened was wrong and nobody stood up for me.’

Jocelyn told the Commissioner, ‘I try to have positive forces around me … to combat the feelings of guilt and pain … I go on day after day thinking about the abuse. I cannot not think about it. It’s there. It’s locked into my heart and it’s too painful to think about’.

‘You must re-tell my story and re-tell my abuse and defend me. The government has let me down once. I cannot bear to go unnoticed again. Please, my story must be told.’

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