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Jordan Travis's story

Jordan’s mother struggled to look after him and his siblings, and they were placed into care in Sydney in the mid-1980s. He can’t recall the details of the children’s homes and foster homes he spent time in between the ages of five and 11, just that his siblings were with him for some of the time but then they were separated.

‘I do remember when I was a young fella that a couple of things happened to me and it just didn’t seem right, you know, but at the time I was mainly doing it for my family.’

When Jordan saw his siblings being physically and sexually abused by adult carers and older children, he put himself in their place, to prevent them from suffering further abuse. ‘It was sort of like I took a couple of bullets for my younger brothers and sisters.’

The sexual abuse Jordan experienced was initially by older children and to some extent seemed like ‘just fart-arsing around, and when you’re young you don’t even acknowledge half of it anyway … It got different when the adults started doing it … mainly men … I can remember one woman … like a nun … wearing white or something’.

Jordan told the Commissioner, ‘There was an old fella that used to do stuff to us and that. But the worst part about that was that all the boys knew. Once you were … once you had to go and see old matey, everyone knew what, you know … what it was about’.

For Jordan, ‘the worst thing of all that happened to me … I completed the cycle. I ended up doing sexual shit myself. I ended up going to jail for stuff like that … I mean, it’s sort of like “monkey see, monkey do”, you know’.

When Jordan was young he was a champion in his sport. He could have gone to the Olympics, but ‘got caught doing things … to young kids. Sort of left me … yeah, disappointed, you know … fuckin’ makes me dirty every single fuckin’ day … I get so angry … I’m so disgusted too … I could’ve been someone so great ... I loved it very much … I loved my sport’.

Jordan believes that he learned wrongful behaviour from being sexually abused and ‘I can easily rub it out … I’ve just got to find the right rubber and I can rub [it] out of my life and go back to the things that were embedded in me. For instance, the knowledge of my [Aboriginal] people … If I were to acknowledge that I’d be better off, but instead I followed the negative things that were implemented in me’.

‘They can’t blame me … for their mistakes and the reasons why I’m this way today, from what they’ve implemented into me … The worst part … they want to put the onus onto you and then, when something goes wrong they want to … charge you for their incompetence. You can’t fuckin’ do that … For them to do it to me, it’s sort of like, well “When are youse gonna put your hand up for your mistakes?”’

It distresses Jordan that he has fallen into the cycle of abuse. ‘For me to be weak in these areas … I feel very dirty from what … happened to me, you know, very dirty on the inside. I’ve been very disgusted … I mean, we can wash the dirt off us on the outside, but to wash all the abuse on the inside … all the abuse and the dirt on the inside it’s really hard … I get angry just about every single day … a build-up of what had happened to me when I was growing up and then it’s a build-up of me doing what I done when I grew up too. And then it’s also a build-up of not achieving what I wanted to be in the world.’

Jordan has become a mentor to younger Aboriginal prisoners and for some years has been teaching Aboriginal studies in jail. He would like to enrol in environmental and land management studies at university and perhaps become a ranger, working in the outdoors, once he is released from jail. ‘It’d put me back on the right path where I was supposed to be.’

This is the first time Jordan has spoken about his abuse. ‘I want to tell you what exactly happened, but I just get so angry I need to tie myself down to the chair so I don’t start … you know.’

Jordan did not divulge everything that happened to him in care to the Commissioner, because ‘I feel like if I told you everything then I’d feel vulnerable all over again you know, and to me that’s yeah, that’s sort of put me back to square one and … I don’t want to feel that way’.

‘When it comes to helping people in the world … If I was an ocean … all they want to solve is the small waves … It’s about time people start acknowledging what’s going on in the deep blue sea. Why these waves happen. Why they occur in that way.’

Jordan came forward to the Royal Commission to gain knowledge to help people like himself. ‘There’s too many people in this jail alone, and outside … I know what they’ve gone through … I can see it in their eyes … And if I can give them something just to ease them … If I can just take a bit of baggage off their shoulders I’m happy with that.’

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