Wade remembers always being cold and hungry when he lived with his family. His dad drank heavily and his mother was always ill and, in the early 1970s, she called the welfare department and asked for help.
Soon after, eight-year-old Wade and his siblings were taken into temporary care, and he was placed in a Protestant boys’ home in regional New South Wales.
A man called Dieter, a former groundskeeper who still volunteered at the home, was allowed to take some of the boys on weekend trips. It was in the campervan on one of these trips that Dieter first raped Wade, acting like this was normal – and even asking him to smile afterwards.
This abuse happened again on several trips over the next six months. Dieter never mentioned the abuse to Wade when they were at the home, and Wade could not tell anyone.
After Wade moved back with his parents, Dieter continued to contact him and abuse him. Wade’s mother thought that Dieter was a good man because he was connected to the local church and volunteered at the home. When Wade hit puberty and his body began to develop, the abuse ceased.
In his late teens Wade moved to the city, where he engaged in risky sexual behaviour.
After receiving a significant health diagnosis he started misusing alcohol and drugs. He is illiterate and has never been able to maintain employment, has at times felt suicidal and lives with depression.
Wade first disclosed the abuse to his mother when he was 19. She was extremely upset and blamed herself. In his 30s he told his partner, started counselling and went to the police.
They took Wade’s statement but advised him that Dieter was living overseas and could not be extradited. Wade has now learned that numerous other victims have come forward.
Next he approached the Church, who said that if he challenged them in court they would drag it out and he would get nothing. Instead, they suggested he approach the Victim’s Compensation Tribunal, which eventually awarded Wade $50,000 in compensation.
He used this money to pursue a civil action against the Church, reaching an out-of-court settlement that provided him with stable accommodation. He told the Commissioner this is not really what he wanted and this settlement has not addressed his problems or assisted him.