‘The son of the lady running the day care centre was a paedophile. [I] was a victim to him. My brother. Another boy that lived next door to us. We were all victims to him.’
Wade grew up in Perth in the 1990s, and he and his brother attended a day care centre in their street. The woman running the centre had a 19-year-old son who sexually abused a number of children in her care.
‘It was horrific, that’s for sure. It started when I was four, and finished when I was nine. My brother was three, and eight when it finished … We were only young. Too young to, I don’t know … It was hard to know what was really happening, I guess … It was a long, long, long time ago. I can’t remember exact details and all that too much.’
The abuse stopped when Wade’s neighbour, who was a little older than Wade and his brother, told his mother what was happening, and the perpetrator was charged.
During the court case, Wade remembers ‘being torn down by the defence prosecutor. I was questioned … I was 10, 11 … I think the first time round it scared me too much and I didn’t end up giving the evidence’.
Because Wade was too frightened to give evidence, the abuser was only convicted for the abuse of the neighbour’s son. Wade’s mother fought for an appeal.
‘My mum really wanted justice … she slept on the door of the courthouse … I ended up giving evidence and secured a conviction and … they gave him like two years for each of us … I’ve just been given a five year sentence for drug trafficking … this paedophile was a piece of shit.’
Wade believes that the abuse is partly to blame for him currently being in jail. ‘I missed out on a whole childhood. I was never a child. I was never good at school. I’ve been told I’m intelligent … but school … too many things had rattled my cage to be in school, and high school, that’s when I started using drugs … I was troubled, very troubled.’
He has had anger issues his whole life. ‘I was a very angry kid. Very, very angry kid. My first anger management counsellor … was when I was like five or something … I’ve never actually sat down and thought, “It’s actually that, that’s making me angry”, but I kind of believe it is, inside.’
After the court case, Wade received a victims compensation payment of $27,000 which he sees as ‘a piss in the ocean compared to, you know … money doesn’t make anything better, but there’s people … my cousin got his foot run over by a bus. He got a $250,000 payout.’
Wade has tried counselling, but feels it hasn’t worked. ‘The first thing you need to know is where things went wrong and I know that things went wrong when this happened, but I can’t … I won’t ever know where it went wrong to start spiralling out of control … and I don’t know where it started to affect me … If you don’t know that, I don’t think there’s any reason trying to fix anything.’
He believes that counselling he received as a child was ineffective because, ‘I was at an age where … there was no maturity there … just young, very … painting smiley faces on a piece of paper … The way that counsellors go about things it … it’d be hard to reach the mind of someone so young and make a difference’.
Wade thinks that if he had been given the opportunity to speak to someone who had a similar experience to him, that may have helped.
He told the Commissioner, ‘I think jail, for me, was a blessing in disguise. It got me off drugs. It made me think clearly. I don’t want to go back to the same lifestyle again. I know that. If I hadn’t have come to jail, I wouldn’t have stopped, I don’t think’.
Wade is aware of what his drug use has cost him. ‘I’ve had many opportunities in education. I’ve had many opportunities in work. And I just think the drugs … I’ve been using drugs since I was 11 … and I think … by the time I get out … I’ve missed out on … I have known that the decisions that I have made have been wrong, but at the same time, I don’t think I was ever given a chance’.
Now that he is off drugs, for the first time in years, Wade has ‘a clear head. All I know is that I want to help people. That’s all I know … With all the things I’ve gone through in my life, I’d like to, when I get out of this prison, if I can help maybe five people, and potentially change something, you know, and even my doing this … if I can help one or two people, that would feel like I’ve got something back’.
Wade told the Commissioner, ‘It’s all been traumatic … It was horrific and should never happen to anyone … I hope one day there is enough time and thought and process and whatever needs to be done … to minimise it to a … very small number, because … it shouldn’t be happening to kids … Especially not at a day care centre where they should be safe. The sad thing is, that this will never completely stop’.