Morty is a member of the Stolen Generations. He was removed from his family in the 1960s when he was four, and the loss of his culture, identity and family has been deeply traumatic. ‘It was a very brutal thing to take the children away.’
After being in a children’s home, Morty was placed into an Adelaide boys’ home which was run by the government. He said that many of the children who arrived at the home ‘disappeared off the face of the earth’ when they were there, and he presumes they died in suspicious circumstances. One of these missing children was his friend Andrew, who he still has constant flashbacks about.
Morty was sexually abused by older boys and staff in the dormitory at night, and also in underground rooms. ‘By the time I was eight years old, I was already sexually active with older men.’
After this, Morty was abused at a government boys’ hostel. He was fondled sexually by the superintendent.
At 10, he was in a boys’ training centre where he was raped by a male staff member.
When he was 11, he spent a short period in a psychiatric hospital. A male nurse took him to the toilet and raped him, telling him to keep his mouth shut.
At 13, he was living with foster parents, and went to a party at a nearby home where boys and men were present. The men gave the boys alcohol and marijuana, and Morty was sexually abused.
Around this time Morty tried to tell a ‘welfare lady’ about some of this abuse, but she ‘said I was crazy and seeing things’. He told the Commissioner there should be ‘better checks on staff members, better background checks. Spot checks on all children in state care. Better supports and supervision of children in state care’.
Morty lives with significant mental illness, and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. Previous diagnoses did not take into account the abuse and trauma in his childhood, and he believes he may have been prescribed heavy medication that was not necessary.
‘I have been admitted to various psychiatric facilities ... I have experienced lifelong impacts of the abuses emotionally. It has affected my ability to be employed, led to periods of alcoholism and homelessness. It impacts the way I live and I am becoming more housebound, rarely wanting to leave my house.’
Despite repeated engagement with mental health practitioners, Morty has never seen a therapist who specialised in child sexual abuse, and has not found ways to deal with the impacts of his experiences in care.
‘That was the problem. That I spent too many times talking to the psychiatric doctor ... And that I never got a chance to speak to another person that would be specifically dealing with this kind of matter. So all my feelings were in tatters, so I became very mentally unstable for many years.’
Starting to speak about the abuse, including with the Mullighan Inquiry and now to the Royal Commission, has been cathartic for Morty.
‘I couldn’t live with this. I couldn’t live with it. I couldn’t – I needed to let it out. It was bottled up you know, when you have that, too much. It’s like having too much grog in you and you get drunk, well that’s what it’s like.’