Marco Luke's story

Marco was removed from his mother’s care when he was five years old. He was told that the authorities determined that his mother wasn’t looking after her children properly and that they were subject to neglect. He remained in institutional care until he was 15 years old.

In the early 1980s, he and his sister were placed at a children’s home in a suburb of Melbourne. He was subjected to physical abuse by the workers and witnessed ‘a lot’ of sexual abuse. He said he saw staff members abusing children and the older children abusing the younger ones. He told the Commissioner that he couldn’t ‘imagine anywhere being like that today’. Shortly after, Marco and his sister were moved to a group home in a different suburb, run by St Vincent De Paul.

His behaviour changed significantly in the group home. He began to have tantrums that were sometimes uncontrollable and the staff built him a separate bedroom where all the windows were boarded up. When he had tantrums, he was locked in this room for extended periods of time. He told the Commissioner that the workers wouldn’t check up on him and fed him ‘scraps’ of food on plastic plates.

When he was 10, he was sexually abused several times at this home by a 14-year-old boy. He said that the houseparents and staff provided ‘limited supervision’ and that the children were expected to do their own thing. He learnt his five-year-old sister was also raped several times by the same boy but he can’t recall the boy’s name.

He said he couldn’t report the physical or sexual abuse to anyone because he ‘wasn’t good at communicating’. He recalls his social worker asking him how he was doing, but he couldn’t express how he felt. In retrospect, Marco said he was ‘emotionally immature’ at the time.

Shortly after, he was transferred to a home in a different suburb and his sister was returned to their mother. He explained that he had a different caseworker to his sister, and being unable to reunite with his family upset him. His behaviour changed after leaving the group home and he became ‘compliant and apathetic’.

For the next five years, Marco was in and out of different homes and institutions, not staying long. When he was 13 he was charged with assaulting a police officer and moved to a youth correctional facility. While in the facility he met a staff member named Jim Parsons. Marco liked Parsons because Parsons offered him cigarettes, which were banned at the facility, however Parsons then went on to sexually assault him.

As a teenager and adult, Marco got involved in several violent and drug-related criminal offences. He said that he ‘dealt’ with the abuse by going in and out of youth correctional facilities and jail and he has spent over 15 years in prison. He taught himself to read and write during his time in jail.

Marco’s private session with the Royal Commission was the first time he had disclosed details of the sexual abuse.

He hasn’t had an opportunity to report either offences to police and hasn’t taken any civil action. Marco said he ‘didn’t know’ that there were options for him. He is interested in receiving compensation, but said the money couldn’t take ‘the damage or pain away’. He said an apology would mean something to him as he is a ‘forgiving person’.

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