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Mauro's story

Mauro doesn’t remember his birth parents. In the mid-1960s he was two years old when he and his brother were made wards of the state and sent to live in a boys’ home in Sydney. They stayed there for nine years.

He remembers the home as a rough place where boys had to shower in front of female staff. If a boy got an erection, one of the female workers would hit him ‘on the penis’. This happened several times to Mauro.

At different times strangers would come to the home and take boys on excursions.

‘Random people would come and take two boys out of the home for the day. Now and then you have to do things or you would be touched in inappropriate places by these people. We were given ice cream and sweets and were told that if we told anyone then we would get into bad trouble and wouldn’t get taken out again.’

One of the strangers was William Albert, a hospital worker who made friends with Mauro’s brother who’d been in and out of hospital for treatment. Albert visited the home many times bringing presents, and during these occasions he’d abuse Mauro and his brother.

‘He told us if we told anyone he would kill one of us. That’s why we never told anyone when we were younger.’

The abuse stopped when the boys were moved to another home in a country town. There they worked on a farm for eight months, and Mauro has happy memories of this time and felt sad when it closed down.

When Mauro was 13, he and his brother were moved to another boys’ home in a small town in New South Wales. That one was ‘pure evil’ with physical abuse that was relentless and ‘cruel’. The man in charge would make the boys stand next to his office in their underwear or naked. Mauro was physically abused regularly by one of the housemasters, Leon Talley, and he believes the supervisor knew ‘everything that was going on’ and did nothing about it.

‘It needs to be remembered that [the home] had been run as a delinquent home for many years but now [Talley] had state wards. To him, it didn’t matter, he ran things the same way. He would beat you if you talked back. He would knee you in your testicles if you [acted up].’

Mauro had his nose broken by Talley and went to the office to report his injury. He was told it was his own doing, and sent to Talley’s son who then sexually abused him. He recalls being taken out to the shed and abused there at least four times, and being threatened not to say anything to anyone.

Mauro ran away from the home numerous times and as punishment when he was returned by police, he was beaten up. He pleaded to leave, and at 15 he was sent with his brother to a boarding house in Sydney for a short period.

In the early 1980s when he was 16, Mauro became homeless. He’d been raped in the boarding house by one of the workers and when he reported the incident to community services staff he was told he was a ‘troublemaker’ and that he should ‘go away’.

On the streets, he became ‘prey to sexual predators’ for money. Attempts to get help from government staff was unsuccessful.

‘All the time I was living on the streets I went to the department for help and was always told to, “Go away”.’

Being ‘fed up’ with living on the streets, Mauro tried to take his own life. He was ‘about to jump’, but then thought his problems might disappear if he left Sydney, so he moved interstate. He has lived there now for decades.

Throughout his adult years, Mauro has experienced suicidal thoughts, flashbacks and depression. He has been involved in minor criminal activities and finds it difficult to settle. He has had over 60 different jobs and stated that he has difficulty forming social relationships and expressing affection. He believes this has impacted upon his relationships with his children. He’d never reported the people who’d abused him because he remains ‘scared’ of authorities.

‘I want people to be accountable for their actions. I want the department to stand up and say that they were wrong. “We got it wrong.” That’s what I want.’

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