‘My real mother … didn’t want me basically … My real father, he was Aboriginal and he left her during the pregnancy … and then basically she didn’t want me because I looked too much like him and she gave me away … She reckoned I was uncontrollable.
‘Years later I tried to go and see her and speak to her. I breached parole to do it and told her that, and she rung the police, got me locked up. So I’ve had no contact since.’
Kaden was made a ward of the state when he was three, and spent time in a number of children’s homes and juvenile justice centres in New South Wales in the 1980s. He was physically and sexually abused in at least three of these institutions. They were, according to Kaden, ‘a cesspit for paedophiles … one big paedophile ring’.
As well as the sexual abuse he experienced at the hands of at least 15 to 20 workers at the institutions, Kaden told the Commissioner that the boys were beaten and restrained excessively. ‘I’ve seen kids get their arms broken and their shoulders popped out … it was horrible.’
To escape the abuse at one institution, Kaden began running away to Kings Cross.
‘I’ve been a heroin addict since I was 10 years old, and started shooting up at the age of 10 and you know, supressed the things that happened to me. I never wanted to talk about it. When I was stoned, I could deal with it. When I weren’t stoned, it was just, yeah, it played on me mind.’
Kaden grew up to become very violent. ‘I had a lot of anger in me … I was a very violent drunk, so I stopped drinking … I believe if things like that never happened to me I … probably wouldn’t be in jail. Most of my crime is violent assault … It stuffed me up, me childhood basically. I’ve been in and out of institutions all me life. I’m starting to break the cycle now.’ Kaden is currently on methadone, ‘so I want to try to get off that as well and live a normal life … but one step at a time’.
One reason Kaden chose to start speaking about his abuse a couple of years ago was that, ‘I don’t cry … My people, my family, they think I’m heartless, and they don’t understand, like the effects that it had on me as a child, because I don’t speak about what happened to me, and they’ve only ever known me to be violent and they don’t know why’.
Kaden told the Commissioner that he is in jail with offenders who were sexually abused as children and who have since become predators. ‘I just don’t understand that. I don’t understand how someone can turn that way when it’s happened to them, you know. I don’t understand that … I might be a bit violent, but the older I get, the more I calm down, you know, but I definitely wouldn’t turn that way. It disgusts me.’
As well as his issues with anger, Kaden finds relationships with other men difficult. ‘I can’t be comfortable with men … My uncles and my real father, they can’t show no affection towards me. Like if they go to touch me, I pull away from them … I told [my father] things had happened to me as a child and he tried to comfort me and I pushed him … “You can’t touch me Dad”.’
Kaden received copies of his records with the help of the legal aid service, knowmore. ‘There was a lot of stuff in there that just blew me away. There were things in there that I didn’t even know … that helped me, with a bit of closure and that. But there was a lot of stuff that was upsetting … I was placed in a paedophile ring and they knew about it, but there was nothing done.'
Kaden told the Commissioner that there are reports in his file about him being sexually assaulted at two of the institutions. ‘It’s written. It’s actually written there in my documents’, but nothing was done about it.
‘I come out with it. I said, “He’s touching kids” you know, and I was all hushed up … and sent to another joint … They made out I was being violent towards the other kids and got me sent to [another institution]. A lot of shit got covered up.’
When a female worker at one of the institutions tried to help, ‘she got bullied and sacked from there, because she wanted to know what was going on, and she tried to come out with it’.
Kaden chose to come forward to the Royal Commission because, ‘If I can stop one kid being touched, it’s better than nothing. At the end of the day … something’s got to be done about the institutions … I honestly believe that [those institutions] were just one big paedophile ring … kids were being bounced around, even myself, I was being bounced between [those institutions] … basically, I was just being passed around, you know’.
Kaden told the Commissioner, ‘I’m still here to talk about it, so that’s the main thing. There’s a lot of people that I was in the institutions with that are not alive no more, you know, take their own lives or OD’d or whatever the case may be, but I’m still here to talk about it, so that’s the main thing'.