‘I was just being a naughty kid I guess. Not going to school … I was always running away.’
Shane grew up in Queensland in the 1980s. He lived with his father, while the rest of his siblings lived with his mother. He told the Commissioner that he didn’t know why he kept running away and truanting from school.
When he was 13 or 14, the police picked Shane up and took him to a juvenile detention centre. He was there on and off until he went to adult jail when he turned 18.
‘I don’t know what to say really, because the same thing happened to others I guess. When they do the strip search, they … make you do certain things that I don’t think I should have had to do and … the [male] officers would watch you having a shower and stuff.’
The detention centre had a school and one of Shane’s female teachers was, ‘I don’t know, a bit too friendly. I was asking for help with my work and she come and touched me on the leg’. The male music teacher made Shane sit on his lap when he was learning to play the drums and this made Shane feel very uncomfortable. ‘I’d be there a long time and I wasn’t playing the drums.’
Shane told the Commissioner, ‘I tried to block it out, a lot of it … That’s when I started doing a lot of drugs. I did try to tell one of the officers … They locked me away in another room. I never told my father or anyone else. I thought I’d get into trouble, because I did get in trouble. I didn’t want to get into any more trouble’.
As well as the sexual abuse by the staff, Shane recalled that other boys at the centre were ‘touching each other and stuff. Just they thought it was funny … the ones doing it thought it was hilarious’.
Shane feels ashamed and embarrassed about the abuse he experienced at the detention centre and finds it hard to show affection and maintain relationships. ‘I don’t feel worthy.’ He has a long history of drug abuse and is currently on anti-psychotic medication for serious mental health issues. He told the Commissioner that, with the support of a friend, he got himself off illegal drugs about 12 months ago, but he still drinks heavily.
After contacting the free legal service, knowmore, Shane began to write down what he could remember of his time in the juvenile detention centre, ‘but it was just bringing back too much, too much hurt and I don’t know … my head was just going all over the place.
‘Every time I’d write something down it’d make me feel even worse … [I] tried to talk to the psychiatrist, but he said I should wait till I get out’, before he spoke to the Royal Commission. Shane did not want to wait.
Shane wanted to come to the Royal Commission because, ‘I have a younger cousin and he’s been through foster care and he’s … going to juvenile detention, so I don’t want it to happen to him. I never had an opportunity I guess … I’ve got myself off drugs for a year and things keep coming back, coming back, and I don’t know who to talk to about it’.
Shane told the Commissioner, ‘I wish it was different. Wish I hadn’t ever gone to the [juvenile detention centre]. Wish I’d never run away from home, I guess’.