‘Mum thought I needed to be taught discipline’, Rex told the Commissioner. In 1970s Perth Rex had been involved with some unsuitable friends and had been caught stealing. Considered a ‘problem child’, the 12-year-old was sent to a boys’ home run by the Christian Brothers where he boarded for a year.
For the first few months Rex found the place ‘not too bad at all’. He got on with the other boys quite well and his house parents, Margaret and Glen Drummond, were fair. This was all to change one day when Rex was told by Mrs Drummond that Mr Drummond wanted to see him in his bedroom.
On arriving there Rex found Drummond naked and lying on the bed. ‘He said “You can lie down if you like”, so I lay down on the bed. What else? Twelve years old.’ Drummond then undid Rex’s pants and started fondling him. ‘I was there for maybe five or 10 minutes, but as soon as he put my hand on his penis I got up and walked out.’
‘I didn’t really know what was going on. Nothing was said about it afterwards. I didn’t make a complaint about it at that stage.’
Some weeks later when Rex was alone in the dining room, Drummond approached him to enquire how he was, as a family friend had died. ‘He then proceeded to take down my pants and he was fondling me … This went on for a minute of two. I got up and walked out because I was scared. I was frightened – I didn’t know what was going on.’ Not long after the second assault, the Drummonds left and new carers arrived.
Rex eventually returned to his family and high school. ‘I think I came out worse than when I went in. It was my problem. I wasn’t getting into trouble as much with the police, but there wasn’t any sleep, I always had the shakes, I felt ashamed of myself.’ Rex found he could not trust people, especially male teachers.
‘A school camp I wanted to go on, a couple of days into it they took me home. I couldn’t handle being alone. Couldn’t handle the camp – made me feel like I was back in the boys’ home.’
Rex believes the abuse he experienced at the boys’ home has wrecked his family life and his career. ‘Every day I wake up, it’s the very first thing I think about.’
He left school early and did an apprenticeship. He worked in his trade for some time and then was self-employed for some years, but his deteriorating mental health made it impossible to continue. Rex survives on the disability support pension.
‘I drifted away from my family because of this … I’m just a loner now.’
Rex, who has a history of drug offences, is isolated and finds it hard to make friends because of his inability to trust others. Severe depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts have seen him admitted to psychiatric care in recent years.
Rex has tried counselling a few times, but this has not helped him so far. He kept his childhood sexual abuse a secret for decades, but did go to the police in the mid-1990s to make a statement about Mr and Mrs Drummond. ‘From that day until now I’ve heard nothing. Not one thing.’
Rex hopes the work of the Royal Commission will prevent similar abuse happening to children in the future. He wants light shed on the past.
‘I want some sort of recognition. I want to stand up and be counted.’