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Kirk's story

‘All boys and girls in homes, institutions etc want to go home to be normal’, Kirk told the Commissioner. ‘In a home they are not normal. They’re doing a lot of the normal things – they’re eating and sleeping and going to the toilet and many other things – but … they don’t live in the natural sun of Father and Mother.’

Kirk lost his father when he was eight years old. When he was 11 his mother got sick and couldn’t take care of him anymore. None of his uncles were willing to take him so in the early 1950s he was sent to a Methodist boys’ home in Melbourne.

The home was located on a large farm where Kirk was quickly put to work. Life wasn’t too bad. Though he missed his mum, Kirk was well fed and got to enjoy playing sport with the other boys.

He also had some opportunities to learn new and interesting things. One evening another boy told him about an engineering class that was about to get underway. Not knowing any better, Kirk went along.

The classes were run by a man named Tony Walters. He was a fun, engaging man who had brought along a range of machines and power tools that he encouraged the boys to use. Looking back on it now, Kirk believes that Walters had organised the classes specifically so that he could gain access to the boys and then sexually abuse them.

‘These people hide behind corners and join these little things and groups and force their way into areas and then they go about with their work. And it’s taken me 30 years to work that out. They are getting into youth groups and the churches and many other things, and this is how he got in there.’

Pretty soon Walters started taking boys home with him on weekends and holidays. None of the staff at the home objected. Kirk vividly recalled one of his early trips to Walters’ house. He arrived with some other boys but Walters quickly took him aside, saying he wanted to show him a microscope.

‘He said, “I look at things through it. And if I can get some sperm we’ll put it on a glass slide and put it under this microscope and you can see things moving in there. So I’ll need a hand to do this, too”. So that’s where it started.’

That night Walters took Kirk to bed with him and raped him. There were many more incidents like that over the next few years. At first Kirk felt confused and conflicted about the situation.

‘He was good to us. It probably sounds stupid to put it that way but in the home you were in a dead end … He was an outing from the home, and we were looking forward to this “outing”, to get away, to go somewhere.’

Then when Kirk was about 12 he began to realise how wrong Walters’ behaviour was and how bad it was making him feel.

‘There came a time when I thought, “Something’s wrong here” and I was thinking of committing suicide … Then I lost my mother who was very, very sick anyhow. But she died. So I’d lost two in about four, five years. Plus this business. It took an effect on me.’

Kirk didn’t try to kill himself. Instead he marshalled his resolve and eventually took action to make sure Walters never touched him again. ‘I was getting bigger. I was playing footy and doing things. And I was able to turn around and say “I don’t want to go”. Didn’t give any explanation. So then he moved on to someone else.’

At that age, Kirk didn’t understand the impact that Walters was having on other boys. ‘Bit stupid, bit young, naïve … It’s probably easy to make up excuses too, but you’re not thinking that way.’

Life went on. Kirk moved to another home and started an apprenticeship that transitioned him from the home into the workforce. Then gradually the effects of the abuse began to show in his life.

‘It definitely has not helped me in my marriage and bringing up children and many other things. I can definitely say that. I took my wife back to her mother and said “No more”. When I think of that now, that’s disgraceful conduct. It’s easy to say she’s at fault but I was definitely at fault. And I would say that’s hereditary from this business.’

Years later Kirk remarried and, after some time, told his new wife about the abuse. He went on to tell his kids and the pastor at his church. He said he’s now at a stage where he can openly acknowledge what happened to him as a child and the ongoing damage it caused.

‘It has definitely affected me all these years. It’s a thing that’s probably always there. You put it in the past and in the background but it’s funny how it creeps up.’

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