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Ned James's story

Ned grew up in Victoria in the 1980s. His mother and stepfather split up when he was about 10 and he went to stay with his father. ‘He was always drinking. Always getting drunk. I got punched around as a young kid, probably from a very young age. Probably eight. Closed fist bashings, and stuff like that.’

Ned told the Commissioner that he ‘started hanging around with some other kids … started to deal and things, and ended up in [a juvenile detention centre] when I was 12, 13 … pretty young … Ended up running away … went through all of them … continued just to … in and out of jail my whole life, pretty much’.

Ned ran away from the first detention centre because he was ‘getting stood over, pretty much … by guards. Sexual stuff. Like making us stick their dick in our mouth, things like that. Getting bashed. Really … shitty’.

After he ran away, he was sent to two more centres, both very violent places. While he suffered no further sexual abuse, Ned ‘used to cop hidings all the time’. To keep themselves safe from the sexual abuse that they knew was occurring in these two detention centres, he and a mate ‘watched each other’s back … We never left each other’s side, ‘cause we were aware of what was happening. That kept us safe’.

Ned told the Commissioner, ‘I’ve never told anyone this my whole life. Not even my mother, but now … it all sort of hit home when I went to court a couple of months ago. The judge said, “Look, you’ve got an appalling criminal history … There’s obviously something that’s done this” and … like, she’s just seen straight through me and … she just looked at me and said, “It’s about time to think about where your life’s gone and why. That way you’ll be able to look past what’s happened” and that really … I started thinking about it and … this came up and it was like, “Oh, yeah … it’s time to actually do something about it”’.

Ned still has flashbacks about the abuse he experienced in the detention centres and he became a heavy drug user in order to cope. He committed many of his crimes to obtain money to buy drugs.

Ned has tried rehab in the past, but only as a way of getting himself released from jail. ‘They started digging into things … started unravelling stuff … I knew then that something was going to give … that they were going to uncover something. And they knew. It’s like they knew. You are the way you are because of the way you grew up, and I started realising then, like, my life has been this big circle of just in and out of jail, in and out of jail.’

Ned told the Commissioner that he is now ready to return to rehab after he is released from jail, and this time he is determined to make a go of it. ‘It would probably benefit me … There’s no point in getting out and just … I don’t want to keep doing this. I know why it’s continued to go this way, but … the more ways I can find to help myself, it’s going to be better.’

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