In the mid-1970s Toby was made a ward of the state by the Children’s Court in Melbourne. His mother was at her wit’s end with him – he was constantly getting into trouble and hanging around with older kids.
Toby never knew his dad and was always seeking out role models. Roger Game was a staff member at the state-run home where Toby spent about two years. ‘I didn’t have a father figure. And I thought Roger Game might have been that.’
It started off in a very friendly way. Roger began taking Toby out on camping trips with his family during holidays and on the weekends when Toby wasn’t visiting his mother. Toby’s sure this must have been sanctioned by the home because permission was required to take kids off the premises.
The abuse started on one of these trips when Toby fell sick for two days. He realised later that Roger Game must have dosed him with something, because that’s when the sexual abuse started. Then ‘progressively, things got worse’. The abuse began to include penetrative sex.
Roger sexually abused him at the home as well. He’d come into Toby’s cottage at night when he was on duty, making sure the other boy in the room was asleep. He’d also take him to his car or back to his house.
At 12 years of age, Toby didn’t know what to do. He was petrified by Roger’s frequent threats that if he said anything to anyone, ‘I’d be taken away from Mum’. He’s not sure if other boys were abused. ‘I’ve tried to forget all this but … I think he was more fixated on me. I was like one of the family, I thought anyway, but ultimately that wasn’t the case.’
Toby believes that other staff ‘would have had to know’.
The abuse stopped when Toby was put back in his mum’s care. But by then he was angry and rebellious and got in trouble again and was sent to another home where he was again sexually abused. This time by a man called Whitman. It was a different scenario but ‘the same sort of stuff’.
Whitman would call Toby into his office next to the dormitory and sexually abuse him. He also lured him to his car and assaulted him there. Roger Game tried to visit Toby at the second home, but Toby managed to avoid him completely. He thinks other boys were abused by Whitman as well.
At 14, Toby was released back into his mother’s care, but he got into trouble again and he was sent back to the home.
No caseworker ever came to visit Toby at either institution.
Toby kept the sexual abuse to himself for years and in the end it cost him his marriage. He stayed in complete denial even thought it was clear that there were problems. He was in and out of prison, where psychiatrists tried unsuccessfully to prise the problem out of him.
Finally he called his solicitor. He was sick of it all and tired of going back to prison all the time. ‘I couldn’t take it anymore.’ He broke down and told her. It was like a weight lifted from him.
He didn’t report to police, or anyone else. But now he’s thinking about telling them. ‘I think it has to come to an end.’ He’s also keen to get more counselling. But as for an apology – ‘What’s that going to do?’
Toby’s biggest regrets are wasting his life and not disclosing earlier. ‘I couldn’t tell. I wanted to be one of the boys … and things like that don’t happen.’
He’d like to see kids get treated a lot better than he was back in the 1970s. But he doesn’t know how that could happen. ‘An institution’s an institution … I don’t know how you can stop it. I honestly don’t know. I don’t think you will.’
Toby was very grateful for one thing, however: ‘Thank God I didn’t turn out like the people who abused me.’