‘I don’t want to look backwards. I kind of think of myself as Humpty Dumpty. I mean I’m cracked, okay? There’s nothing I can go back and fix but we can move on from here, okay, so I look at what is still functioning and I say, I can still walk and carry on. That’s the way I look at it.’
From the age of 13, Lindsey was sexually abused for two to three years by Nigel Collins, a teacher at his school in South Australia.
Lindsey reported the abuse to the principal and deputy principal and was sent to a counsellor and a psychiatrist, who prescribed anti-psychotic medication. He also tried to report the abuse to South Australia Police at the time it occurred in the mid-1970s, but they called the school and were given assurance that Collins wouldn’t have done anything wrong, so no further action was taken.
Lindsey alleged that the school, despite being part of the public system, wasn’t formally under the control of the Department of Education. ‘I found out many years later that the particular school that I went to had a Memorandum of Understanding with the police - that the police were to contact them in the event of anything occurring, not the Department.
‘The school was basically independent of the Department, so no matter what I did it always got back to the principal and the principal would basically handball it back, or just silence me or what have you.’
Lindsey described to the Commissioner the ongoing impacts he experienced as a result of being sexually abused, and this included being harassed by SA Police.
Lindsey recalled that when he was 13, police came to his house, beat him up and then upended his bedroom looking for drugs. Despite being highly qualified and possessing an ‘IQ north of 180’, Lindsey said he hadn’t been able to work more than 18 months in the last 40 years. He believed this was because those in authority would pressure his employers to dismiss him.
During the 1970s, Lindsey tried to seek assistance from the Rape Crisis Centre but services were refused. ‘Unfortunately at that time Rape Crisis Centre was a women only zone. You couldn’t even get in the door. It said, “No men at all”, basically on the door and I didn’t know that. But it was advertised on every bus and I thought I’d ring it.’
In the early to mid-2000s, Lindsey tried to make an appointment for a private session with the Mullighan Inquiry into child sexual abuse in South Australia. He said his efforts were continually thwarted because staff cancelled appointments and refused to see him. He regarded their actions as a further example of authorities trying to deliberately silence him.
Lindsey said that in the early 2010s, SA Police charged Collins with sexual abuse offences, but Collins breached bail and fled overseas. As far as Lindsey knew he remained there.
Life now involves a lot of community advocacy work for Lindsey and he enjoys helping people. He told the Commissioner that he is successful in what he’s done and hasn’t had ‘any trouble doing anything’. He has a supportive partner, good friendships and plenty of ‘resources’.
‘I lived through it because I thought to myself – I don’t trust anybody – but I thought to myself “What have I got?” Once again, the Humpty Dumpty principle. I said, “Okay, I can risk”. It’s pretty much like sitting at a gambling table. You know you’re going to lose but you make a risk because you think, “Alright, the payoff will be good, and if I lose it’s not that bad. I can survive.
‘So what I do is, I bet on a little bit of luck and I move from there. So essentially I’m relying a bit on lady luck and I move forward … I try and stay as positive as possible, because I think everybody wins when you stay positive.’