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Ted William's story

Ted and some of his siblings were placed into foster care in Sydney in the late 1980s. ‘I think it was due to the drug issues of me elder brothers.’ Sent to a number of foster homes while in care, the first one was a group home, where boys and girls were housed separately. There were seven or eight children there at the time.

Ted described how he was sexually abused by the foster father at this home. ‘Started out … I was distraught … crying … coming to comfort me and yeah, it started off just rubbing, comforting … It wasn’t just me. It was other boys as well, but yeah … he’d start playing.’

The abuse occurred on a number of occasions and became worse over time. The children stayed at the home for about three or four months before their next placement.

Ted was also sexually abused at two other foster homes. At the first, the perpetrator was the son of the foster father. He was in his 20s and came to visit on weekends. He took Ted to a park, where he abused him.

At the next home, the abusers were the foster father and one of his friends. The men sexually abused Ted three times. ‘They had … an enclosed space out the back … They’d come and get me and take me out there.’

Ted never told anyone about the abuse when it was happening, because of the threats he received. ‘It made a huge impact on me … I couldn’t talk about it, or they threatened to hurt me sisters or … said I was a kid and they wouldn’t believe me.’

Ted and his siblings were returned to their mother’s care when Ted was about 10, and the family moved to the country. While he was out rabbiting with his older brother, Ted confided in him that he had been sexually abused. Instead of helping him, his brother took him home, and began abusing him. The abuse continued until Ted was 15.

‘I always kept it to myself and then we were out [in the country] with me mum and me … sisters and one of me older brothers. I felt like, you know, I can trust anyone in the family … and then … I had trust issues after that. I still do.’

When he was 16, Ted stole his mother’s car and drove to Melbourne. When the police caught him, he told them that he was being sexually abused and that was why he’d run away. He wasn’t charged with stealing his mother’s car, but he didn’t hear anything more about the complaint against his brother. He didn’t report the foster care abuse to police.

In trouble since about 14 or 15, Ted has been in and out of jail for 10 years. ‘In 2006 I was charged with culpable driving … breached my parole … Came back in … out for maybe two years.’ Things were looking good, but Ted stopped taking his medication. He told the Commissioner, ‘I’d been drinking and on drugs, lost it with a bloke, and ended up back in here … on assault charges’.

Ted has been diagnosed with significant mental health issues. When on his medications he’s ‘pretty stable. I’m able to focus on what I do. I communicate’. When he goes off them, ‘I’m all over the place’.

Ted spent time living on the streets of Melbourne when he was about 16. He started visiting an Aboriginal medical centre where it was suggested he see a counsellor. ‘I went to two sessions. Found it hard. The first session was pretty straight forward … getting to know me … It wasn’t till the second one when he … [started] asking me details …’

The sexual abuse that Ted experienced has had a detrimental effect on his relationships, especially with his family. ‘I’ve questioned my identity … When I do try and talk to the family they always bring up stuff from the past and what I’ve done wrong.’ He has no support from anyone outside jail.

Ted believes that it would be helpful if children in care received ‘a visit from someone outside … checking … one-on-one, just taking visual note of their behaviour and stuff’. He thinks that if anyone had observed him when he was in care, it would have been obvious that there was something wrong.

Ted told the Commissioner that ‘the main reason I want to tell my story is to prevent it from happening again. That’s the main thing’.

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