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Morgan Paul's story

Morgan’s parents were both alcoholics, and domestic violence was common in the family home. By the age of 12 he was labelled ‘uncontrollable’, made a state ward and sent to a government-run residential facility in Melbourne.

It was the early 1980s, and the boys’ home was a violent place. One of the workers had a particularly bad reputation with the kids, who warned each other to stay away from him. Morgan can’t remember his name, just that he was a big man with a moustache who drove a flashy car.

One day there was a physical altercation between Morgan and this worker, when Morgan wouldn’t do what he was told. This culminated in the man forcing the handle of a broom into Morgan’s anus. This abuse happened another two times, and Morgan suffered significant injuries.

The impacts of these injuries became apparent, and the nurse at the home asked him what was going on. He told her what the worker had done. She called the superintendent into the room and got Morgan to repeat what he had said. The superintendent clipped him around the ear and told him to ‘pull his head in’.

However, Morgan was soon moved to a different part of the home, and believes the worker was later sacked. He doesn’t know if the man was ever charged, or if his dismissal was related to these sexual assaults.

Although he didn’t tell any of other boys, he heard stories that some had been assaulted in a similar way. ‘No one ever admitted to it happening to them, but it always happened to the bloke they knew ... Even with me, it’s like yeah, yeah, I heard about that too, fuck, stay away from him.’

A while later Morgan was fostered out to various homes. The first couple were great, but he was moved when his foster mother fell pregnant. The next placement was terrible. He was beaten a lot, and became aware the foster father was having sex with the foster daughters.

Morgan ended up back in trouble and was returned to the boys’ home. He absconded when he was 16 and never returned. He met a girl, Amanda, who had run away from another institution, and they travelled around the country together for many years. After Amanda died Morgan used a lot of drugs and ‘lost my sanity’.

A while later he got married and had children. He wishes he had photos from his own childhood, as it’s hard to remember what he was like back then.

‘My kids go, how tall were you when you were my age? The only comeback I have is, I was as tall as you are. How long was your hair? Not as long as yours. What colour was it? Blonde? ... I can’t really remember what colour my hair was. Didn’t look in the mirror that much when I was a kid.’

Morgan has a lengthy criminal record, and spoke to the Commissioner from prison. He has never reported the abuse to police, and as the perpetrator would be very elderly he doesn’t see much point in doing so now.

A couple of years ago Morgan became aware that another inmate was making a civil claim against the same home. He contacted this man’s lawyer about making a claim, too. As yet he has not heard of any progress with this matter, although he knows that the lawyer was seeking to get his welfare records.

If Morgan receives any compensation he would give it to his own children – ‘at the end of the day, their life is being affected about what happened to me’. He is ambivalent about being given an apology by the state, or the institution itself.

‘Whose fault is it? Who’s going to say sorry? This bloke isn’t going to ... It was him who committed the act, it wasn’t the boys’ home. It wasn’t the judge’s fault, for deeming me uncontrollable. It wasn’t the court’s fault, for deciding to make me a ward. Because everyone thought, you know, he’ll be safe there.’

These days Morgan is open about the abuse he experienced, and refuses to carry shame about it anymore. ‘That shame put me in here. That shame made me a really violent person. A horrible drug addict.’

He wonders how things may have been ‘if I was allowed to be a child, if I was safe, in any of their environments. I’d be a completely different person’. In jail he was given some counselling when he was having a ‘hard time’, but this was insufficient. ‘I got six session. Each session was borderlined by a specific roster. Session one, was getting to know each other, in 20 minutes. Session two was deal with anger issues, in 20 minutes.’

Morgan now tries to counsel himself the best he can. ‘I’ve never been able to figure out if the way I deal with things is the right way. I know I’m the person I am because of the things that have happened to me ... I’ve always just plodded along, this is what I am.’

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