‘I’m hoping to get change for children who might be going through the same situation … to make people realise this is happening.’
Milana is a young woman with an intellectual disability who spent most of her growing years in foster care. In the mid-1980s she was taken from her mother by the Queensland Department of Child Safety and made a ward of the state. ‘I remember’, Milana said. ‘I remember all of it. I try not to remember it but my past I remember more.’
In her first placement Milana recalls being sexually abused by her foster father. ‘I must’ve been about four or five because I was in school.’ When she was just a little older Milana found herself in another home with a foster mother named Helen.
‘She had a guy that lived downstairs … He was trying to get me to stick my thumb up his anus, and I said “No”. And he tried doing it to me and I said “No”.
‘I told Helen and she kicked him straight out of the house.’
The next placement was even worse. Olive Tupper became Milana’s long-term foster mother, and regularly physically abused her. Once when she was left alone, ‘Child Safety rang the house and asked to speak to Olive. I just said, “Not here”.’ When Olive was later reprimanded, she took it out on Milana. ‘I got the biggest flogging … I got hit from one end of the house to the other.’
Milana lived with Olive in both Queensland and New South Wales. She feels let down by the child welfare departments in both states. ‘I have big strong opinions on child safety. I think they should change their ways. Look at the children. If the children are saying something’s wrong there … they should listen.’
No one ever asked Milana if she was happy in foster care. ‘Even if they did I would have to lie, because Olive would’ve had that power over me.’
Olive also fostered a half-brother of Milana’s named Brendan who was a year or two older. Milana was sexually abused by him from the age of eight until she left foster care at 19.
The years of abuse took their toll. As an adult she self-medicated by drinking and became an alcoholic for some years. Milana says she is ‘over that’ now.
In recent years she’s tried reporting Brendan to Queensland Police. The experience has been mixed; some officers have been ‘lovely’ and very supportive, others have been rude and told her not to bother because there is ‘no evidence’. No charges have been laid against Brendan.
Milana has done some training and now has a good job, as well as a husband and children.
‘I always believed in following my own path. I never believed in following anyone else’s. I chose my own way of living and being strong. I wish I could turn back time and be strong and powerful earlier.’