Kylie was born and raised in the 1960s at an Aboriginal settlement run by the Queensland government. She and her sister Laura were orphaned but looked after by an aunt, a ‘very nasty old woman’, according to Kylie. Their aunt would beat them often. The sisters slept in a dormitory with other girls. During her time there Kylie was sexually abused by her grandfather. Laura was also assaulted.
Kylie did not disclose the sexual abuse to anyone, other than Laura, for fear of her aunt. ‘Couldn’t, because otherwise we’d’ve got a flogging.’
There was no one outside the family to tell, and no one to protect the girls because they were orphans. Kylie believes her ‘nasty’ aunt had been sexually abused by the grandfather also.
There were aspects of life at the settlement which Kylie enjoyed. She loved playing sport. And Kylie was a diligent student. ‘Used to go to school every day. Never missed a day. Used to get away from my aunty, you know.’
Nevertheless Kylie left the settlement as soon as she could, at age 18. ‘And I was glad to get out of there.’ She had her first child at 19 and started a family of her own. Kylie is a grandmother now. She has kept her history of abuse to herself for 40 years. ‘I never tell any of my children what happened. It’s not for them to know.’
Kylie feels she has survived her childhood abuse quite well. ‘I still sleep with the light on’, she told the Commissioner. ‘But I had to be strong for my younger sister - to help out.’
Kylie has not looked for help from counsellors or doctors. ‘I just survived everything. I got along by myself.’
‘I just got on with my life. Having my first son, I think, made me really wake up and smell the roses. Like, “Gotta look after your own now”.’
The old government-run institution is long gone, but an Aboriginal community remains in the vicinity. Kylie rarely visits. ‘I think it’s worse than ever.’ She believes young people are in danger of exploitation because their exposure to drugs and alcohol makes them vulnerable.
‘The people should be helping the young ones. Because they’ve got nothing to do there.’
She welcomes the chance to tell her story at last to the Royal Commission. ‘It’s good to speak to someone and get it off your shoulders. It’d been kept inside all those years.’