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Kim's 's story

‘I spent my whole childhood on the run. I was always running away, being brought back and beaten up, and as soon as I could I’d be off again. The authorities said I was trouble. They didn’t know the half of what was being done to me.

‘Since I was a kid, most of my life has been messed up. Prison, psychiatric hospitals, treatment for all kinds of stuff, trusting people and getting screwed over, marriage, kids, separation, divorce. Now I’m like I was at the beginning of my life, on my own with not much to show.

‘I got beaten and raped from the time I arrived. It went on into my late teens. I never really knew what was going on, just went from one day to the next. I learned if someone did something for you, you could expect they’d want something in return. When I was very young, I just put up with it. Later it became a choice - well, not much of a choice but you get to a point where nothing hurts you anymore.’

In the early 1950s Kim was seven years old and newly arrived in Australia when he was sent to a Christian Brothers boys’ home in Western Australia. He recalled being overwhelmed with the kids and noise, screaming and bullying. His first memory of sexual abuse was that of Brother Bernard forcing him to perform oral sex. ‘I was scared of him because he was really tall and kept threatening what would happen if I told anyone. I don’t know how much it happened, I’ve just got memories of it being more than once.’

At the age of nine, Kim was sent to another Christian Brothers home. Violence here was extreme with Brothers using fists, straps and boots to attack boys up until and after they fell to the ground. Kim’s repeated attempts to escape the home generally resulted in him being returned by police and beaten by Brother Morgan. ‘He’d flog the crap out of me with a thick leather belt. I was left covered in black bruises in a crumpled heap on the floor, but I’d already be thinking about how to get away again.’

Kim told the Commissioner that Brother Street was always nice and often invited him into his room to give him extra food. ‘I was so starving all the time it was a really big deal, and it was good stuff, not the shit they gave us kids to eat. In return, I would take off my clothes and lay on the bed, and he’d fuck me up the bum. It used to hurt a lot at the start but he would keep giving me food and once or twice he gave me a cuddle and that felt so nice, because we never got cuddled. Once he even said I was a good boy. So I didn’t complain.’

While he was at the home, Kim was also sexually abused by Brother O’Halloran. ‘He was strong and held me down … I know I tried to stop him and he punched me in the ribs, so I just lay there and took it.’

Max Sidney, a worker on the farm, was known as a ‘pervert’, and boys steered clear of him when they could. Kim was abused many times by Sidney who’d trap him and force him to perform oral sex.

By 14, Kim had absconded so many times he was sent to a youth detention centre. ‘It was supposed to be impossible to get out of but it was easy for me to escape through the ceiling and climb out through the roof.’

During one escape, Kim was given food and shelter by Vince Green, a man living with his wife on a nearby property. After hiding Kim for several months, Green applied to Western Australia child welfare authorities to become Kim’s carer and in the late 1950s was appointed legal guardian.

Soon afterwards, Green vacated his house and moved into Kim’s caravan. He then started sexually abusing Kim, threatening that if he didn’t comply he’d be sent back to the detention centre. The abuse continued for three years despite child welfare authorities being alerted by both Kim and Green’s wife. Departmental staff said they couldn’t act because they had ‘no proof’ of any wrong-doing.

At 17, Kim got away from Green, but struggled thereafter. ‘My life was hell from the day I got to Australia. Over the years, I’ve been in a lot of trouble with the police and with drugs and stuff. I’ve had shock treatment in hospital and I lost everything. I don’t know my own kids and I don’t trust anybody. I don’t even bother with girlfriends anymore because it’s too much trouble and everybody lets you down.

‘I just live on my own, me and my dog.’

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