The environment Wallis grew up in was violent and abusive. His mother would ‘throw me around by the hair and shake the hell out of me’, and his stepfather was part of a bikie gang that manufactured drugs and often partied in the home.
Wallis recounted being subjected to sexual abuse or exploitation from the age of seven or eight by Margaret, a woman he’d been seeing for therapy. He said Margaret would start their sessions and then soak a cloth in liquid that Wallis now believes was something like chloroform. She’d then force Wallis to sit on her lap and would hold the cloth against him until he fell into unconsciousness.
Wallis recalls a number of occasions when he was on the verge of unconsciousness and heard Margaret speaking with someone, saying, ‘Not yet, not yet’. He once saw a man in the room and believes he was sexually abused while he was unconscious. On several occasions, he left the room with a sore anus and genitals.
In the mid-1980s, Wallis was around 10 when he was placed in the children’s section of a New South Wales psychiatric hospital. He doesn’t know why he was sent there but thought it might have been arranged by his stepfather who ‘hated’ him. While he was there he was raped by another boy. He also recalled being raped and forced to perform oral sex on a boy in the grounds of the facility.
Wallis also remembered that during his time in the hospital he was called into the office of a male staff member who fondled his genitals and rubbed himself against him.
On weekends, Wallis was sent back to his mother and stepfather where he continued to be emotionally and physically abused.
When he was 18, Wallis armed himself with a shotgun and attempted to confront his stepfather – who ran away at the sight of him.
At 21, he rang the psychiatric hospital and asked to speak with the staff member who’d sexually abused him. However, the receptionist said that given his angry tone, if he ever rang back the police would be called.
At around the same time Wallis thought he might be able to take legal action against the hospital. ‘I rang a lawyer, ‘cause it’s like people need to know what’s happened to me, and the way I am today because of that …
'And the lawyer says, “You can’t take legal action against government institutions in New South Wales”. That’s it. That to me was the end.’
Hearing this led Wallis to cutting himself with a razor for the first time. He’d had suicidal thoughts many times, and had felt isolated and ‘hated’ his whole life.
Wallis spoke to the Commissioner from a Queensland prison where he was serving a sentence in protective custody for firearm possession. The gun police had found on his property was one he’d purchased to end his own life.
‘I’m in prison for the weapon I wanted to kill myself with and am now housed with the type of people I wanted to kill myself for.’
Artwork was one way Wallis had of coping in prison. He didn’t get on with others and had never really discussed events of his childhood before speaking with the Royal Commission.
‘It takes time for me to settle in, to be able to get my brain flying properly, thinking properly’, he said. ‘So, you know, to be able to talk about everything and all the aspects of it after blocking them for so many years, it’s like travelling back down through your childhood – open out, let it out, let it out.’