Talbot and his siblings were born into a wealthy farming family in south-western New South Wales. Although his parents had ‘a very dysfunctional relationship’, they managed to present a unified front to their community.
When Talbot was 12 years old in the mid-1960s he was sent to boarding school, which was a common occurrence then. ‘It was the natural expectation in my family that all the children would go to boarding school, as it is for many well-to-do rural people. I can certainly tell you that as a permanent result of my experience I certainly didn’t dream of sending any of my children to boarding school.’
When Talbot arrived he found a culture that valued athleticism over the pursuits he had more affinity with, such as choir and debating. He also found that he had not been equipped with the practical skills that other children had, which left him vulnerable to bullying.
‘When I got to boarding school I didn’t know how to make a bed. There were 12 others in the dormitory, and I’d ask the teacher how to make a bed. And he said, “Did no one teach you how to make a bed?” and I said, “No, the dark girls used to do that for me”. The dark girls were the Aboriginal girl what was employed by my parents … So I was a bit spoilt.’
One of Talbot’s peers at the school was Derek McGinty, a large-framed boy with a wild reputation. ‘I now know from what he’s told us and now as an adult what I can analyse, he’d been caught by his parents having sex with his sister … So his parents would have sent him out … to get him away from all of that as a boarder.’
One afternoon, less than a year after Talbot had started at the school, McGinty approached him in the school barn.
‘Late one afternoon I was cleaning up … and this kid must have been lurking … and he had something on his mind. And he pushed me over into a corner and then pushed me down in between some rows of sacks and undid my thing. I couldn’t do much about it, he was bigger than I was. And he took off my pants, my underpants, pulled them down to some degree.
‘And he grabbed me and then started oscillating his hand. We must’ve had completely different things in our mind, I can tell you. He must have thought that by this oscillating thing that it would cause me to become aroused. The exact opposite happened. He fumbled with his own pants, took them down, turned around and put his arse right in my face.’
During this incident Talbot, who was powerless the stop the bigger, stronger boy, did not react. Eventually McGinty gave up trying to arouse him, punched him in the face and left.
As an adult, Talbot has spent much of his life in and out of jail on drugs charges.
‘I got into pot because I liked it, I liked the sensation and I like the people who I associated with ... Having been subjected to abuse over many years in my formative years, I found it fulfilling to my sense of self-worth to have something available that others didn’t. In that regard that is certainly a major factor as to why I have been put in this prison for growing four acres of cannabis. It gives me a feeling of worth.’
Talbot told the Commissioner that when he was 17 and incarcerated in an adult prison, he was approached by an older inmate who threatened to slit his throat if he did not arrive in his cell after lights out. Talbot told the older inmate he would rather die than allow himself to be abused. The older inmate eventually stood down.
Talbot has been married but the relationship did not survive. He has never sought compensation nor considered bringing criminal charges against his abusers. Before coming to the Royal Commission, Talbot had never told anyone about either incidence of abuse, because he considers it ‘just too humiliating for words. We don’t talk about that’.