It was only down to what Trevor described as ‘luck’ that he was removed from foster care with the Piper family. He’d become a ward of the state in the early 1960s and had lived in an orphanage and at least two homes before being placed with the Pipers a few years later when he was five.
Trevor told the Commissioner, ‘The Pipers had two teenaged daughters. They used to get me to massage their legs, and in the end I would finger them and they would play with me. A whole pile of kids lived there, and one evening we were lined up to go to the toilet and the foster mother thought I’d done a wee in the night potty. She banged me, knocked me off my feet, and I smashed my mouth open on a wooden box. It was fortunate the field officer came out the next day, and I was removed from that home’.
At six, Trevor moved to another foster home with his brother Murray and two sisters, as well as an 18-year-old foster brother called Charlie. He told the Commissioner the Bollards were good foster parents, but that living in a good home ‘with regular meals’ came at a cost.
‘Charlie was molesting Murray, who was about 11 at the time. When Murray told Ma Bollard, she came and found me and asked if it was true, and I said no. I remember Murray was just crying and crying, and he said, “Why didn’t you tell them it was going on?” He hated me. They sent Murray away after that, so Charlie started on me and that went on for three years.’
In his mid-teens, Trevor ran away and over following years he was in and out of corrective institutions. He described his behaviour at this time as anti-social and aggressive.
‘I struggled with myself, I didn’t know who I was or where I was going. I survived the justice system because I went through it with people I was in the orphanage with. I’d walk into these environments, and there’s my mate, there’s my mate, there’s another mate.
‘I was told I was going to be a little toy boy, but all the people I grew up with were all in there, the whole lot of us.’
In the early 1990s, Trevor provided a witness statement to police in support of his brother, but didn’t come forward as a victim himself. Charlie was charged and pleaded guilty to offences relating to child sexual abuse of Murray.
In 2008, the West Australian Government announced a redress scheme for those abused or neglected in state care.
While waiting to tell his story, Trevor said he had an emotional breakdown.
‘I couldn’t believe the government could have such a poor, poor process. I was on the edge of my seat for six months, and when the day came I rang them up and they said sorry, we don’t have any counsellors yet. I ended up paying for my own counselling, which I’ve found has helped.’
Trevor received $45,000 in compensation through the redress scheme, but also something he considers far more important.
‘I received a letter through redress. They believed me, they believed my story. I just cried and cried, that’s all I could do. All the abuse wasn’t a figment of my imagination.’
Despite going through periods of drug dependence and an ongoing struggle with alcohol addiction, Trevor completed a university degree as a mature age student, has forged a successful career and has a wife and children.
‘I smoke like a chimney, I drink like a fish. I’ve done speed, smoked lots of pot. My whole life has been about what I cost, what I cost, what I cost. If a child comes into your care, you have a responsibility to care and nurture it or it leads to greater cost on society at a later date, because we all went into the prison system.’