At the end of World War II, when Milosz was six, he and his mother fled their home country, moved around Europe for several years then migrated to Western Australia.
When Milosz was eight his mother could no longer look after him and work to support him at the same time, so she sought advice from the priest who gave mass at the Catholic church they attended every Sunday.
Her main concern was her son’s safety, and so the priest convinced her to send him to a nearby boys’ home run by the Christian Brothers.
As soon as he arrived at the boys’ home, Milosz had the distinct feeling something was wrong but he didn’t have the words to describe it. The Brothers ‘thought they were knights of the roundtable’, would have the boys drink ‘God’s wine’ which would sedate them, after which they would digitally or anally rape the boys, sometimes two at a time.
‘We were parentless. We were on our own at night in the dormitory. You don’t know what you’re offered to drink. You don’t know when they come to get you out of bed what goes on ’til it started.’
When his mother would come to visit him, Milosz didn’t have the words to describe what was happening. ‘I knew something was wrong but I didn’t know how to say it in [our language], ’cause we didn’t have “rape” in [our language] or “fingering”. You know, all those sort of things.’
It wasn’t until his mother noticed blood running down his leg during one visit that she realised something was terribly wrong. She went to the local police station to make a complaint but it was never pursued. ‘No one listened, no one gave a damn.’ Years later Milosz confronted the police sergeant the report was made to. ‘I went and got that sergeant and gave him a good biffin’’, ensuring the sergeant knew exactly why he was being attacked.
Milosz’s mother removed him from the boys’ home and enrolled him in the local primary school, also run by the Christian Brothers. At school, Brother Fitzgibbon would target boys and get them to comb his hair while he played with their legs. If a boy said no he would be treated badly. At first it was combing and leg rubbing but it quickly changed, and Milosz told the Commissioner he was raped at that school. Milosz disclosed the abuse to his mother who made a visit to the school. After this Brother Fitzgibbon no longer taught there and Milosz never saw him again.
After years of abuse and trauma Milosz ran away from home at the age of 14 and hitch-hiked all the way to Sydney. He eventually contacted his mother but in the meantime he had renounced the Church and became involved in underworld crime. ‘After all this I was a pretty nasty fella … I was bad, mate. The Underbelly’s got nothing what I know.’
Milosz became consumed with anger and turned to alcohol for comfort. ‘Altar boy with hate, that’s who I was. And what was gonna fix it? Sex and God’s wine, which did nothing. And that is with you.’
Although Milosz was associated with organised crime and eventually spent time in jail for assault and battery, he became particularly incensed over incidents of violence against women or children. ‘I don’t like kids, women hurt. I’ve seen, again I’ve learned. But a kid doesn’t know.’ Milosz told the Commissioner about an incident many years ago when he attacked a man who was ‘real bad at molesting women, young women’, and who later became a prominent political figure. But more than anything, he told the Commissioner, ‘I did wanna get square with Church, with priesthood and brotherhood’.
As a young man Milosz married and went on to have several children. Milosz’s wife was aware he was abused but didn’t know the extent of it. Eventually they separated because ‘it was getting harder and harder to share’.
Eventually Milosz distanced himself from organised crime, moved back to Western Australia and started his own business which became very successful. Several years ago Milosz suffered a near-death experience that completely changed his view of the world and he became community-minded, donating generously to the underprivileged. ‘After that I started helping.’
‘Every time I talk about it I feel better and better, as though pieces have gone zip, lock the key and put that in a file. And this is clean.’
To this day Milosz has a good relationship with his children who have all achieved success in their chosen careers. He told the Commissioner ‘I’m proud as Punch’.
Although Milosz now feels at peace with the world, he would still like an acknowledgement and apology from the Catholic Church for the abuse he suffered. ‘You know what I wanted? Somebody with balls that would say “I’m sorry what has happened to you” … Be real with you.’