Reggie's story

Reggie has no memory of his father, who died when Reggie was very young. Reggie’s mother remarried when he was in primary school and Reggie found himself in a Brady Bunch-style blended family. He was the youngest of eight, but life was far from a sitcom. Reggie’s stepfather was away from home a lot of the time, drank heavily, and was abusive. ‘He was a bit of a pig’, Reggie told the Commissioner.

The family lived in Sydney’s south-west in the 1980s. A local church ran an activity centre that filled the six weeks of the school holidays, ‘for uncontrollable kids’ according to Reggie. His stepfather sent Reggie and his brothers along to it three years running.

One of the workers there was a middle aged man named Angus. Reggie remembers Angus paying him more attention than usual, and describes him as a ‘touchy-feely’ person.

One of the activities run by the church centre was an overnight camp. Reggie attended when he was 14 years old and went to sleep late at night in a three-man tent he shared with Angus. ‘Me and another kid and him.’

He awoke to find Angus fondling his genitals. He was immediately frightened and embarrassed. ‘I got up and started going off.’ Reggie demanded Angus let him go home. In the end he walked kilometres in the dark back to his house.

He did not return to the camp nor to the holiday activities.

Reggie believes he told his mother about the abuse at the time but she didn’t seem interested. Eventually he disclosed to his brothers, who spoke to his mother. She took him to the local police station where he reported Angus. He recalls signing a written statement.

Reggie did not hear from the police again. He saw Angus around the suburb after that and believes he stayed involved with the church activity centre.

After his experience of sexual abuse, Reggie was often in trouble. ‘I guess I started hanging around with the wrong people. It’s been bad ever since.’ He spent time in a couple of juvenile detention centres and, although they were tough environments, Reggie was not sexually abused there.

As an adult Reggie got involved in crime to support his serious drug habit and spent many years in prison on stealing, break and enter and drug-related convictions. He has been a long-term heroin user and more recently became addicted to ice.

Reggie began a relationship in his teens and fathered three children with his partner Leanne. The children are adults now and Reggie has kept in touch. They are supportive and Reggie is beginning to think about ways to get his life back on track when he is released from prison.

He and Leanne are no longer together. Although Leanne is now free from drugs, when the children were small both she and Reggie were users. At one time both were sent to prison and the children were taken into care. The children were restored to Leanne after she completed drug rehabilitation.

Reggie wants it known that the foster care system failed them – his daughter Scarlet disclosed that she was sexually abused by the son of her foster parents. Scarlet is supported by a mental health organisation and is receiving counselling.

Reggie would like to see support services in place for children getting into difficulties. ‘More help, I reckon, more counselling. I suppose if I had someone to talk to back then, who knows?’

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