Lucia's story

Lucia grew up in Melbourne in the mid-1970s in a migrant family where English wasn’t spoken at home, so when she went to the local Catholic primary school she needed some assistance with her English language skills.

As a child, Lucia’s mother told her that she should do what her teachers told her to do. ‘Be obedient. Don’t question anything … that’s what was instilled in me.’

When she was six Lucia attended remedial English reading lessons with five or six other migrant children. The class was taken by Mr Constable, who Lucia remembers as a thin man who wore glasses.

The class was held in the staff room, with the children sitting on chairs in a circle. Lucia told the Commissioner that Mr Constable would place a child on his lap, hold them tightly and touch them inappropriately, both inside and outside their clothing, while they were reading. ‘He always had someone snuggling him.’

Lucia did not realise that what Mr Constable was doing was wrong, but ‘I remember … feeling uncomfortable, but not knowing why it was uncomfortable. Feeling, “Oh, I have to go there again”, you know … We’d never say anything with our friends in the playground … You’d just, “Ugh, have to go there” … I think everyone might have felt uncomfortable. But it wasn’t discussed … I remember I was quite reserved as a child and yeah, just …. I remember feeling uncomfortable a lot’.

Lucia told the Commissioner that ‘it happened in primary school and even throughout all my high school years it … I didn’t think anything of it. It was just until in my 20s when, I don’t know, you just become more mature and you hear, you know, you read … in the papers … and you think, “Oh, that’s a thing”’.

Lucia remembers when ‘that Michael Jackson saga happened in the papers and there was a big thing about … that’s when it all came to me, because when that was happening … I was reading more … I really had no idea before then. I was just a bit naive, I think’.

Lucia told the Commissioner that she thinks that children today are taught to be a bit more aware than they were when she was in primary school, but there should be even more information available to help parents talk to their children about issues such as inappropriate touching.

One of the only things Lucia remembers being taught is ‘a teacher in primary school telling us not to take lollies from strangers. That was a nun. That was how she touched on it … Looking back now, I go, “She was trying to educate us, in her own way” … “When you come home from school and they’re offering you lollies on the side of the road, don’t take them” … and I learned not to do that’.

Several years ago, Lucia was talking to one of her oldest friends from primary school and they started to talk about Mr Constable. The friend told her that her mother had said that Mr Constable was asked to leave the school, but she didn’t know why.

Lucia hasn’t told many people about the abuse and didn’t report it to the police. She is afraid that if she tells people they will regard her differently. However, if Mr Constable is still alive and the police want to pursue him, she would be willing to talk to them.

Lucia told the Commissioner that the abuse had not had a huge impact on her life, but she admits that she is very protective of her children. ‘I’m okay. I don’t have any hang-ups. I’m wary … I’m just very wary.’ She has never let her daughter go on sleepovers. She was also reluctant to put her disabled son into respite care in case something happened to him, which led to her becoming very run down.

Lucia wanted to come to the Royal Commission to tell her story in the hope that it might be of help to others. ‘And that’s the only reason. In case someone was affected more than me.’

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