When Nate was very young, his father died, and when his mother found a new partner, ‘he gave my mother an ultimatum: either him or the children. So the children were put into care’. In the mid-1960s, Nate spent six months in a children’s home in Queensland.
Children at the home were often taken out on weekends by foster families, and one of the families asked Nate if he would like to live with them. He lived with Mr and Mrs Williams from just before he started school until he was 13 years old.
Life with the Williamses ‘seemed all good at first, but they were really strict … I remember getting floggings and floggings and floggings, for what, most of the time I wouldn’t have a clue … [When] I got a bit bigger … he used to punch me or just poke me with his finger. Just kept poking me’. Mrs Williams didn’t intervene, because she used to flog Nate too.
During the nine years he lived with the Williamses, Nate never saw a social worker. ‘So that’s the thing. It’s very important for social workers to see children … and see the children by themselves … Because quite often kids are too scared to say anything in front of the people looking after them.’
By the time Nate was 10 he was ‘terrified of them … I wasn’t game to say anything … I never saw them flog their kids like they flogged me … I always seemed to be the one. It was always my fault, no matter what it was’.
When Nate was 11, the local Anglican minister took him and two other boys to visit another Anglican minister in New South Wales. ‘We got there in the afternoon … and [the two ministers] were having a beer and that. Joking, I said, “Where’s my beer?”.’
The ministers put the three boys to bed, and ‘this other minister comes in and says, “You’re being too noisy”. He picked me out because I was the one that said about the beer. He knew what he was doing’. The minister told Nate to sleep on the floor in his room. He came into the bedroom with a beer for Nate, and told him not to tell anyone.
‘I’d never had a beer before … Later he’s come in and he says, “Oh, you’ll probably find it more comfortable up here on the bed than on the hard floor …” I didn’t think nothing of it. So … I got up on the bed.’
The minister then began showing Nate some magazines. ‘They’re all gay magazines … and anyway, he was showing me that, and I wasn’t understanding any of it. And then it come to the point where he started pulling me, my penis, and he got me to pull his penis … That was my first sexual experience.’
Father Barton, who took the boys on the trip was ‘like God … and he was good and he always was good, but it was the other minister …’ Nate never told anyone about the sexual abuse, but ‘I did say to Father Barton that “I think that minister’s gay”. I didn’t tell Father Barton anything about it, what happened’.
Because his ‘head got screwed up … by [the] minister’, Nate was moved to another foster family when he was 13. The sexual abuse he had experienced made him feel sexually confused.
‘I knew me foster mum wasn’t me mum and she used to walk around, you know, sometimes in just a … see-through nightie type thing and … you know, she’s not my mum, she’s a woman walking around, so after the minister molested me … it was like, I was worried that I was gay, and tried to make advances to [her]. That’s why [I was moved]. I started to like my foster mum …’
When he arrived at his new foster home, one of the first things Mr Parker asked him was if he smoked cigarettes. Nate said he did, so Mr Parker offered to get him some. ‘He was like the minister. It was, “Do this for that”…’
Nate had never had wet dreams before he went to the Parkers but he thought that was what was happening every morning, and of course, this ‘was a normal thing teenage boys do’.
However, he began to suspect that, ‘when you wake up every morning with a bloke playing with your cock or … messing around with ya, it makes you wonder whether it was wet dreams or whether it was him while I was asleep’.
Nate told the Commissioner, ‘Parker, he’s dead now, but he was just a putrid paedophile’. He recalled that one good thing about going to live with Mr and Mrs Parker was that a social worker visited regularly. He and another boy told the social worker a little of what Mr Parker was doing.
‘She only come once a month and the next time she come we said, “Oh no, don’t worry about it”, because we liked our foster mum, and we didn’t want to hurt her. So we just sort of let it slide.’
When he moved to a new foster home, Nate asked his social worker if he had any brothers and sisters. He didn’t even know his real name, because he’d been using Williams as his last name. He found out he had a large number of siblings, and when he left foster care at 17, he went to live with one of his sisters.
Nate married in his early 20s, and had children, but the marriage didn’t last ‘because of all my insecurities from when I was younger … my untrusting ways’. As well as trust issues, when Nate was younger, he had trouble understanding that ‘people can be gay but not be paedophiles’.
Nate has never had counselling, but he has been in contact with Open Place, an organisation that supports people who grew up in care. It was his support worker who persuaded him to come forward to the Royal Commission. ‘I hope it helps.’