‘No kid should have to live like that.’
Rosaline was born into a very large family, living in a small town in Queensland in the early 1980s. Family life was violent: her mother was often beaten by her ex-partner and her mother ‘beat up’ her children as punishment. Her father left the family when Rosaline was three months old.
Rosaline was initially placed into state care because her mother’s boyfriend physically abused her as a baby. When Rosaline was living with her mother, she ‘copped’ regular beatings from her mother. She said her mother liked to use brooms or a jug whenever Rosaline misbehaved. Rosaline had to hide the bruises when she went to school.
In the early 1990s when Rosaline was 11, she moved overseas to live with her biological father. She explained that living with her mother was too ‘stressful’ and was happy to get away. Rosaline lived with her father and stepmother for two years, despite not getting along with her stepmother. She then moved back to Australia and lived with her mother for a short while.
When Rosaline was 13 years old, she was sexually abused by her mother’s new boyfriend, Justin Bobby. She disclosed the abuse to the principal of her school and it was then reported to the welfare department. Rosaline became a ward of the state shortly after and went through several foster care placements for a period of two years.
Rosaline explained to the Commissioner that she kept running away because she found it hard to trust her foster parents. She was also sexually abused in three different foster placements. Rosaline was molested by a foster father, who she believes was called Richard. She was also sexually abused by two other foster fathers, but she can’t recall their names.
Rosaline reported the cases of abuse to her welfare worker when she was 14. She recalls being taken back to Richard’s home where she was flogged for disclosing the abuse. Rosaline then ran away from the home and nothing more was done. After running away, Rosaline was placed in one more foster home before leaving foster care.
As a 16-year-old, Rosaline was living on the streets, sleeping in parks or on friends’ couches. She said she received ‘no help’ from welfare. Rosaline then engaged in ‘heavy drug’ use, which caused ‘many problems’. Rosaline gave birth to her first child at 17, but the child was removed from her care and made a ward of the state.
Throughout her adulthood, Rosaline has suffered from depression and has recently been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She told the Commissioner that she has been ‘off and on’ medication for several years, but it made her violent and she has now stopped taking it. Rosaline has seen many different counsellors and has yet to establish a stable professional relationship with one counsellor.
Rosaline has been estranged from her family for several years. Prior to her mother’s death, her siblings were able to reconnect with their mother but Rosaline didn’t. She had had several fights with her mother, who accused her of ‘sleeping with her boyfriend’. Rosaline’s relationships with her siblings are severely strained because of this.
As she wasn’t believed in her childhood, Rosaline never disclosed the details of her abuse to the police. She didn’t report her abusers and has not pursued any civil action against the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability services. Coming to the Royal Commission is her second disclosure as an adult.
Rosaline now has a ‘beautiful partner’ who helped her ‘pull away’ from drugs. She has had several more children with her partner. Rosaline said her children are her ‘oxygen’.