Millicent was born into a happy environment in rural Queensland during the late 1950s. When she was five years old, however, her mother suffered a debilitating health condition. ‘My mother was out of her tree in so far as frustrated, because she didn’t know what was wrong with her. She was suffering headaches.’
Around this time Millie’s father also became too unwell to look after her, so Millie’s grandmother convinced him to put her into care. ‘My father didn’t want me to be a state ward, he wanted to look after me. But he wasn’t well.’
‘I went from this kid just out in the bush, didn’t know jack … Idyllic life for a kid. Then … my grandmother … just told my father to put me into a home. In those days you had to pay for that. So he paid for the privilege for me to be abused. Not once but many times. For a start I was abandoned there, I was terrified. I don’t think I’ve ever got over that.’
Millie was placed into a Presbyterian-run home where she was constantly subjected to abuse from her peers and the staff, particularly the matron. Millie was force-fed mouldy oats, had her hair cut off as punishment and received no medical attention after suffering a broken rib at the hands of another child. Millie told the Commissioner that the matron ‘was so paranoid she created that paranoia in me from an early age … Her solution was to bite a kid. I mean, what sort of fuckwit does that?’
When Millie first arrived at the home she was not permitted to visit her mother for reasons she never understood. By the time she was finally allowed to visit her, her mother had passed away.
Since her father was incapable of caring for her, Millie was removed from the Presbyterian home after three years and placed in the care of her grandparents for several months. During this time she was repeatedly sexually abused by her grandfather.
At the age of eight Millie was placed into a family group home, this time run by the Presbyterian Church. On multiple occasions she was abused by other children as well as her house mother. ‘I was grabbed by the breast every day at [the home]. Not just grabbed, squeezed. You know the hard bit in the middle? Squeezed like you’ve got the flu and everything’s aching. That hard. Male and female.’
While residing in the group home, Millie was raped on several occasions by male residents and forced to masturbate them. She told her social worker about the abuse, who in turn reported it to the house mother. The house mother would stroke Millie’s face while questioning her repeatedly about the abuse, but never took the complaints further. ‘How can you go to a social worker, a house mother, and say what I didn’t even have words for it? So I shut up.’
Since leaving care Millie has suffered multiple health complaints including hyperthyroidism, sciatica and ‘muscular-skeletal problems from the abuse, from the experiences as a kid. And that’s never mind about all the psycho-babble about getting assaulted. That has its own set of shit to deal with’. As a result, Millie is unable to work full time which has affected her earning capacity.
In the mid-1970s Millie experienced the death of both her father and her fiance which, combined with the trauma of her childhood, resulted in a psychological breakdown. ‘I went from bad to worse. I couldn’t work, they couldn’t figure it out. My brain is totally fogged. Obviously I was having a bit of a nervous breakdown.’
Millie is deeply mistrustful of the police as well as government officials, and told the Commissioner ‘I think all governments should be put to the guillotine’. Recently Millie was diagnosed with schizophrenia however she has no faith in the medical profession and rejects this diagnosis, refusing to take medication. She is also troubled by her ‘intense inappropriate thing for the boys. What sort of Christian’s that?’ She attributes her unwelcome attraction to younger boys as a result of her early sexual abuse.
Millie has several children and grandchildren, and is supported emotionally by her husband. However, years of being in care has affected her social skills. ‘I can’t join a group – I’m not normal. I have no friends as a result of being institutionalised.’
‘My life’s screwed. I might as well up and die … I have no self-worth. I mean, what’s the point? I can’t work. Even if I could I’m right back to where I was basically in ’74 and my brain just has gone out the window. I can barely read. Certainly can’t concentrate.’
‘I barely survived but for what? It would have been kinder if I’d been put down at birth.’