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Mick Smith's story

'Just glad it's out there and open and glad to talk to someone who understands what people like me … go through every day of their life without no one knowing … This is the reason – they took my childhood away and they made me who I am today.'

Mick has been in jail now for many years. Before jail he was in juvenile detention, out-of-home care with foster families, and boys' homes. His early life was very unsettled. He was first taken away by the Queensland Government in the late 1980s.

'I've never really known my family that much … I never met my real father until I was about 16 … Mum wasn't an alcoholic until she met my stepdad and it got really abusive.

'When I hit about … six … I got tooken away from her and been put under family services care and all throughout my younger teens to my late teens – that's how long I've been with family services and just been in and out of foster homes growing up.'

Mick spent most of his time in regional Queensland. He believes that his foster care placements always ended because he kept running away to see his mother.

'That was too much for them.'

At 17 years old Mick wound up, still under the care of the state, staying with his biological father.

'He was abusive to me … I ran away from his place and I lived on the streets ever since.'

Before Mick landed in family services care he had been brutally sexually abused by a number of relatives in the Aboriginal community he lived in. As a young child, five or six years old, a man in his 20s or 30s anally raped him.

'It happened so fast, and I didn't know what to do. I didn't know if it was wrong or right at the time, you know, really young.'

Not long after, an older female cousin in the community performed oral sex on Mick, then another female relative forced him to have sex with her, also making a younger female relative have sex with him while she watched. Mick had no one to report the abuse to and, because he was so young, he didn't really understand what was happening to him.

Mick's first sexual abuse while he was in an institution occurred when he was in his early teens.

'We [Mick and an older boy] went to court together one day, and it happened in the watchhouse. He told me to do oral sex on him … told me to take my trousers off and all that and sit on him while he was sitting on the toilet. And he covered the door up with the mattress … so it was dark and the cameras couldn't see what was going on … I was probably about 13 or 14 there … he looked like he was in his 20s.'

Mick was raped again in a detention centre when he was 16 years old.

'One night when it was yard time … we went down to the sports centre and there was a swimming pool … I was in the pool by myself and then the boy ended up jumping [in] and … he's just started talking dirty and then he asked if he could have sex. I didn't know what to say you know, 'cause I was younger than him.

'There was nothing I could do 'cause he was a bigger boy than me and I was only a little baby fella, growing up. He goes, "You'll be right, no one knows about this, the screws can't see us or the cameras".

'I just wanted to get out of there. I didn't report it or nothing or [even know] how to go about it.'

When he turned 18, Mick was placed into adult prison and targeted by other inmates because 'I looked like I was 15, 16 still young, really young, I looked real young'. He was groomed by an older inmate who offered protection.

'I thought, yeah, you know, 'cause he was so friendly and he'd take me under his wing.'

But the man soon began to force Mick to watch pornography and engage in sexual acts.

'I didn't know what to do. I couldn't move out of the unit … I didn't know who to talk to … and everyday … It happened for … two and half years.

'I couldn't talk to none of the staff because … rumours are true. If you're seen talking to the staff, people get bad vibes and you start being the target and being so young and I was not well educated or didn't know how to talk to anyone … So that just went on and went on.'

He was also sexually abused by another inmate in the jail. The next time Mick came into prison he signed 'straight out to protection' so he wouldn't be with the mainstream population.

'If I was living a normal life on the outside and speaking up for people who'd also been abused in foster care and youth detention centres and prison … I would [report his abusers to police] … but I don't really want it to go out public.'

Since his earliest adult convictions Mick has seen a number of his abusers in jail.

'Just seeing them walking with their head held high and there's nothing you can do … you feel intimidated by them … Still today … I'm still frightened from them, you know.'

Mick has ongoing health issues and has been focusing on staying well in the hope that he is up for parole soon. He has also begun a new relationship and realises that he is still a young man.

'I'm looking forward to a better outcome … hopefully you know, a stable job that I can properly keep and new friends and live a new life with my partner … I've got heaps of things I really want to achieve.'

Mick was grateful to the Commissioner for listening to his story.

'I hope that heaps of people do come forward like me and speak about their problems and what they suffered and what they been through.'.......

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