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Miller's story

In the late 1960s, when he was around eight years old, Miller was put into an orphanage in northern Queensland run by the Sisters of Mercy. ‘I later found out that my true mother – I found out when I was 40 years old – all the time was only living probably about 100ks down the road,’ he said.

‘She used to tell my other half-sisters and brothers that I was a vegetable, that I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t walk, and that’s why I was in the orphanage.

‘They used to go … in the car grocery shopping and that once a month. And every time they drove past they’d go straight past the orphanage. And when they were going past she used to tell them, “If you don’t behave yourselves in the car I’ll drop you off here ‘cause this is where all bad kids go”.’

Miller hadn’t been living there long when he began to be sexually abused by the chaplain. ‘First time I remember was when I was called aside by the priest … I think I was about nine years old at the time … and took me into a small, sort of private room just off from the church. And then he tried making me feel at ease by sitting on his lap. And I didn’t know what was going on because at that age you don’t know what’s happening. And that was when he first started touching me a bit.’

‘It wasn’t just once, once now and again.

‘It was like every second or third day. And it wasn’t like just a little touch here and there, it was really personal stuff.’

The chaplain told Miller that there was nothing wrong with what they were doing, but that he should ‘keep it as our secret’.

‘And when I did try and tell someone what was going on, I think I was about 11 years old – late at night I was doing what most blokes do under the sheet – and a nun caught me and she said, “What are you doing?”, and she virtually knew and I said, “Well, the Father does it to me and has no problem, so what’s the problem?”

‘And she said, “Stop lying. Go wash your mouth out for telling lies”.’

When he left the orphanage to live briefly in foster care, Miller tried to tell another priest about the abuse. Again he was called a liar and his claims were ignored.

‘I just felt, “Well, what’s the point of saying anything to anyone?”’

The first impact of the chaplain’s sexual abuse appeared soon after. ‘I’d been told I was a liar all the time so I thought, “Well, what he’s doing is perfectly natural”.

‘And … it was starting to rub off on me, that it was okay to do that. I got a young, nine, 10 year old boy, locked him in the toilet for a while and then I started to realise, “No, there’s something wrong with you”.’

After leaving the orphanage Miller was moved around and ended up in a Christian Brothers boys’ home south of Brisbane. When the Commissioner asked about the amount of education he received while in the system he said, ‘Don’t even bother going there’.

As an adult, Miller felt the abuse affecting him more and more. ‘When I had kids myself, I wouldn’t even bath my own children. I was that worried that something was going to happen, that I might do something to my own children.

‘How can you spend so much time with your kids when all your younger life more or less you’d been abused and treated like you were a doormat?’

Then in the early 2000s, he got a call from the police asking about the orphanage and the chaplain. ‘And that really opened it right up again.’

He has strong feelings of depression and anxiety, and started drinking heavily until a good friend convinced Miller it was just hurting him more.

He only started talking about what happened six or seven months before coming to the Royal Commission. ‘I’ve never, ever told anyone about it because every time I did it was like,

“No, it’s a load of rubbish”.’

Miller tried seeing a counsellor but found that reliving his time in the orphanage was doing more harm than good. ‘I ended up telling her, “If I keep coming to see you, one afternoon when I’m going home I’m going to just drive straight in front of a truck”.

‘I feel like, what’s the point of living? And the only thing that stops me is I’ve got a photo of my kids in my wallet. And if it weren’t for them I probably would’ve done it years ago.’

Miller has never received any compensation because he didn’t know such a thing was possible. When asked about putting in a claim he said, ‘Can they give me back my wife and three kids?’

When asked for any recommendations Miller’s answer was simple. ‘We need to take more time listening to children and not jumping to conclusions straight away.

‘Have a bit more trust in children.’

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