Parker’s mother died in the 1980s, when he was two years old. His father moved him and his sister interstate to Brisbane. As a single parent his father was always working and there was little attention paid to Parker.
As he grew older, he began to mix with older boys and was soon involved in minor crimes, ‘doing odd jobs’. He was 10 years old when he was charged and convicted of a break and enter and was sent to a juvenile detention centre. He was one of the youngest children there.
‘The whole time I was there I was scared.’
While he was in the centre he was sexually abused by a guard. He didn’t report it to anyone then and he still has great difficulty talking about what happened to him. He hasn’t told anyone the details of his abuse.
‘Not fully ‘cause I felt weird … That’s why I opened up [to the Royal Commission] … I thought, well if I open up, we can stop this happening to others and [them] going through the life I’ve gone through.’
After Parker was released from his first period of juvenile detention, he was charged and sentenced to detention three more times. Then he landed in adult prison. He is now in his early 30s and will finish his current sentence soon. The last time he was out of jail, he only lasted seven weeks.
‘Every time I get out … it’s hard because I can’t work … drugs are around me and I don’t even know why I have it … Before I knew it I had a habit again.’
Parker still grieves his mother’s death and knows that while his sister has always been very supportive of him, his latest return to jail has been ‘me own doing’ and that she is sick of the cycle of jail and drugs. He also hasn’t seen his son in six years. ‘Look where I am. I can’t be in his life.’
Parker looks back at the boy that he was and wishes he had fought the guard harder. ‘I couldn’t defend myself … I was helpless.’
He finds it challenging to see himself as that helpless child. He feels hopeless about his life but knows that the pattern of drugs and jail won’t change anything for him. He is keen to access counselling once he is out.
‘Realising that [I need help] … try everything. Talk to whoever I have to, to help me get the support I need, the counselling. I need it. I’ve realised that. I can’t do it on my own. I’ve tried for too long and I keep failing miserably … I’m trying … I was going to wait till I get out and get a counsellor I can stick with … one person … [to] trust.’
He hasn’t accessed his juvenile justice records as yet but would like to, and he may pursue compensation. ‘I’ve taken ages to grow up, I think, because I’ve been in jail a lot.’