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Taran's story

Taran grew up in a family he described as ‘pretty dysfunctional’. His father was in and out of jail, and his parents’ marriage was volatile. When they split up in the 90s, he and his sister left home with their father, often hitchhiking from place to place.

When Taran was about five years old, the three of them were living in a Catholic-run hostel in northern New South Wales.

‘I remember there was a bloke, Bill Senn his name was. And I think I was crook or me sister was crook, and me dad asked him to watch us. Like, I think they’d sort of become mates … I don’t think me dad knew that he was a spider. And me dad’s gone down town and me and my sister’s in this bloke’s little room … yeah, he started touching me and then touched my sister. It was pretty full on, too. It’s affected me sister a bit I think, more than me.

‘It was just the once, ’cause we told me father about it and he ended up, I think, broke the bloke’s nose and stabbed him …

‘I think … if you come from a good family and that, they’re going to tend to doubt it because they don’t know it happens, you know what I mean. Whereas my dad had been in jail with sex offenders and shit before this happened, so I think that’s why he didn’t have any doubt. Like, we wouldn’t make something like that up …

‘[Senn] ended up getting charged for it. We went to court … but I don’t know what the outcome was.’

Not long after this, Taran and his sister woke up one morning to find their father had gone. ‘There was just a note saying take us to his brother’s house.’

Living with their aunt and uncle was a ‘good upbringing,’ Taran said. He and his sister went back to school, and they even had some counselling for the sexual abuse.

‘That sort of helped a bit. But I was too young, I don’t think it absorbed in, what’d happened. But now I realise it was absolutely putrid.’

Taran stayed with his aunt and uncle until his mid-teens. ‘I turned out to be a bit of a shit, you know what I mean. They diagnosed me with ADHD and all this other stuff …

‘Once I got thrown out and went to live with my father I started wagging a lot, and drinking, and drugging … wasn’t taking me pills and stuff like that …

‘Ever since then just been in jail.’

He became a father for the first time at 18, and later had two more children with his partner. The relationship ended because he kept re-offending.

When Taran spoke with the Commissioner, he was serving a sentence for a serious offence. He’d discovered that a man he knew had secretly been taking photographs of children. ‘I’ve had this bloke around my kids for years, you know what I mean, like he was a so-called mate. And I just lost the plot.’

As an adult, Taran has never had any counselling for the abuse. ‘I still think about it, especially in the showers. I’ve gotta shower in my jocks, you know what I mean …

‘I wanted to be on anxiety pills and that, ’cause I wig out in the shower quite often and stuff, around other lads. They reckon I’m not depressed. I said it’s not for depression, it’s for anxiety.’

He also can’t urinate in front of other people, which is an ongoing problem because of his past drug use. Taran is often ordered to produce a urine sample, which he can’t do with a guard or doctor in the room.

‘If they were molested as a kid, and then were asked to piss while a man’s watching them, I’m pretty sure they couldn’t do it either … But you do it or you get charged.’

Taran said he’s tried to get help for his mental health in jail, but it takes months to see a psychiatrist.

When he came to the Royal Commission, Taran was still keen to know if Bill Senn was ever convicted. And he was hoping to get transferred to another jail, to be closer to his children.

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