‘For these entities that believe they’re worshipping God, in the manner that they’re acting; honestly, what planet are they on?’
Lincoln was born in the UK in the late 1940s. After his parents separated he was sent to an orphanage at a young age. His father used to visit him there but Lincoln doesn’t remember his mother doing so. When he was seven, Lincoln, unbeknownst to his father, was sent to Australia under the child migration scheme. ‘We’re talking kidnapping here.’
The Christian Brothers boys’ home, in Western Australia, where Lincoln was sent was not the land of sunshine and oranges he was promised.
‘I can only describe my stay at [the boys’ home] as the start … of a brainwashing religious experience with all the abuse and everything else that goes there. I used the term “gulag” … We were used for labour … we’ve got the sexual abuse situation that, not only myself, but many of the other kiddies there … It was a common practice, where you’d see these men sitting on their beds at night, and probably fondling them and playing with them. I can remember many a night I’d just get under the blanket and hide myself.’
When Lincoln was eight or nine, he was sexually assaulted by a Brother. The Brother woke Lincoln up, took him to the bathroom and abused him.
Later, Lincoln was sent to another boys’ home, also run by the Christian Brothers. Although he was not sexually abused at this home, he’s fairly certain he had a near miss with a notorious paedophile (notorious amongst the boys) that worked there.
The boys were often violently beaten. Punishments were harsh. Lincoln remembers labouring on one particular site. He wasn’t wearing shoes and suffered lime burns on his feet. He was also severely sunburned. Boys as young as nine or 10 were forced to labour on jobs such as these.
‘For me … probably one of the worst parts about the environment was the fear that these men perpetrated.’
Lincoln’s holiday parents were good to him and wanted to adopt him but were refused permission. He believes this was all about money. The boys were a source of income. Lincoln’s father, for example, was paying fees to the home.
Lincoln found it hard to concentrate, which affected his education. He left school – and the boys’ home – after Year 10. Shortly afterwards, when Lincoln was 17, he was summoned to the Catholic migration centre in Perth. He was handed a bunch of opened letters from his father, which he had never received.
Shortly after that, Lincoln was called up and fought in Vietnam. ‘When I think of Vietnam I could not, in any way, declare that I was post-traumatic from my experiences as a Vietnam veteran. It’s … due to this … [his childhood].’
Lincoln went on to obtain qualifications and had a professional career. He received a payment of $45,000 from the Redress WA scheme. He’s currently pursuing legal action against the Church. ‘If I can get some sort of monetary compensation … I’ll grab it with both hands because they [my children] will benefit from it … But, given that, the damage will never be undone. I’ve heard other boys say it never leaves you and it’s true.’
He would also like to receive compensation from both the Commonwealth government and the British government for their hand in this ‘murky affair’.
For over 30 years he has pursued another faith, which he has found very helpful. His wife is also very supportive.
Lincoln managed to visit both his parents in the UK before they died.
‘It has been … survival – mentally, emotionally. I’ve had incidents where I’m very short-fused and they’re generally … where there’s an injustice. And I’ve tried to understand that and I think I’ve picked up where that has all come from. It’s to do with the emotional side of myself and I’ve addressed that bit of myself. You know, talking about this, at times, I get emotional about it. But, look, I’ll walk out of here and it’ll be in its box where it belongs.’