Trey's story

‘I never engaged in sexual activity in that unit. Mainly because sex both confused me and scared the living Christ out of me.’

Trey was neglected as a child by a father who was abusive and an alcoholic. The Department of Human Safety had been involved with the family from when Trey was young, and in the 1990s, he was removed and put into care.

Separated from his siblings, he was placed into a state government facility in regional Victoria. He remembers feeling angry because he wasn’t around his mother or siblings. He described himself as an aggressive child who couldn’t settle, and for several months, moved between foster homes, hating every one.

He was then placed in a group facility. There he was bullied and emotionally abused by the workers. He knew there was sexual activity between the older kids and the workers, but was too scared to say anything.

‘I ended up running away from that unit … It was absolutely hell, I fucking hated it. No one did a damn thing to fix it, they just shipped me off to another unit. If you’re in the too hard basket, off you go, sunshine.’

Trey was then moved to another facility, but things didn’t improve. The workers continued to emotionally abuse him. Soon after his arrival, he found out that a 16-year-old girl in the facility was pregnant to another resident.

For two years, Trey lived at the facility. He received limited education, which was frustrating because he enjoyed learning. He noticed that staff, some of whom were in their early 20s, socialised with and on occasions had sex with the teenage residents.

‘I can’t even remember the amount of people I saw engaging in that sort of behaviour … Nothing was done to stop it … I ran away a lot because it was the only way to save my mind.’

When Trey was 14, he was moved to another facility because he had absconded too many times. He wanted to report the things that he had seen at the previous place, but didn’t know who to turn to. When he told his caseworker, he didn’t receive a response, and he thought no one at all seemed to care.

Irene Bolton was the head of the residential unit at Trey’s new facility. He described her as an uncaring woman who often brought drugs onto the property. Trey remembers seeing her bring different men to the unit, and doubts they had undergone any kind of check that would permit them to be there.

‘She did provide the environment for [abuse] to happen.’

Trey was 16 when he overheard a 12-year-old girl being raped by a male worker. The next morning he ran from the unit to the local police station to report what he’d heard. He made a statement, but was told by police he was just making trouble and they drove him back to the unit.

Finally leaving the unit in his late teens, Trey had difficulty finding full-time employment, particularly because he hadn’t finished his schooling while in care.

At various times in his life, Trey had had suicidal thoughts. He described himself as someone who was isolated from others, and he’d never really had friends. He has a fear of social situations, doesn’t trust people and is easily angered. He’s never had an intimate relationship.

‘There’s always this little thing in the back of my head … Is this another [facility] thing? Or is this another person who thinks I’m full of shit? There’s always this doubt.’

Trey often has flashbacks to his time in care. He’d been diagnosed with depression and anxiety, and was taken aback when his psychiatrist told him it was likely that he’d been depressed since he was a child.

Part of his reason for coming to the Royal Commission was to speak up for those who he knew had been sexually abused while in care. He wanted children to know that it was okay to speak up and report abuse, and thought this particularly important for those who couldn’t speak for themselves. He recommended better protocols be put in place for carers working with children.

‘If we continue down this road [of ignoring children], it will never stop.’

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