Warren was raised in a religious family in Queensland. In the mid 1960s, he attended a state high school in the mid 1960s which was fairly new and ‘pretty strict … seriously strict, probably, compared to some of the schools today’.
In Grade 10, Warren was in the playground when a teacher, Mr Vince Blake, pulled him aside for wearing black instead of grey socks. ‘He noticed … and told me to go to his office. I did, and that’s where it started.’
‘He got the cane and I thought, “Okay, he’s going to cane us across the backside”. He started to fondle my genitals with the cane and he came up behind me, and I was raped … I went to the bathroom … I stayed there until … 3.15 I think it was in those days, and all the things that go through your mind.’
Warren cleaned himself up and walked home. ‘I probably think that by the time that I [got] home I might have made up my mind already, like, “Who was I going to tell? Was I going to tell anyone?” I probably think by five o’clock that night this never happened, in my mind.’
Blake sexually abused Warren three times. During this period, Warren ‘spent a fair bit of time not going to school … In those days, if you weren’t at school, you had to have a note from your parents. I never had a note, because I knew that I … was never going to be quizzed by him … I spent quite a number of days sitting on the roof of … a water pumping station’.
At the end of Grade 10 Warren told his parents that the high school ‘couldn’t offer me the matriculation subjects that I needed … I made that up, because my mother and father wouldn’t have a clue what that meant … So that was my escape from [the] school’.
During the Christmas holidays, Warren decided to tell his father about the abuse. ‘That took a little bit of courage because I knew that, in those days, people didn’t believe these things existed, or if it did, like, it’d be swept under the carpet … But what I was concerned about more than anything was my father will kill this bloke. That’s what I thought.’
Warren’s father took no action and died a short time later. Warren said that this ‘was one of the significant issues, that he never did anything, he didn’t react to this … I don’t think that he ever even told my mother, and I certainly didn’t tell my mother’.
Warren left school to get a job to help support his mother after his father died. Once he found a career that suited him, he became a workaholic, and this was the mechanism he used to cope with the memories of the sexual abuse he had experienced at school.
Eventually Warren became ill, possibly due to the stress of over-work, and living on ‘one meal a day … and 300 cups of black coffee and about 450 cigarettes’. In his mid-50s, he was forced into retirement due to ill-health.
‘I didn’t have the camouflage of my job anymore and I started to have some significant issues … I was, at the same time, trying to hide a bit of this, so what I decided to do was go and live in a cave. So I decided I would have nothing to do with … my siblings, my friends, my acquaintances. All gone. I didn’t want to have anything to do with anyone …’ Warren’s wife became very frustrated with him not wanting to go anywhere.
Twelve months ago, Warren began getting out of bed in the middle of the night and driving to the boom gates at a local railway station, contemplating taking his own life. The only thing that stopped him was the thought of his grandchildren. He decided that he needed help, and had himself admitted to a private hospital.
Sometime after she began treating Warren, his psychiatrist told him that she had never treated anyone as sick as he was, nor encountered anyone who had kept a secret as long as he had. It was more than 45 years since he told his father about the abuse, and he had told no one else.
When Warren’s ‘story came out’ he was able to put thoughts of suicide behind him. ‘This was [over 45 years] of carrying something … Until I was in that hospital … I never knew what depression was. I had no idea, because I used to think, “Depression, that’s something that’s never going to get me”.’
The doctor agreed with Warren. She said, ‘“You had this ability to kick it out, to get it away from you. But by doing that, the day was going to come …” She said it was a time bomb’.
After two stays at the hospital, Warren made two promises to himself. ‘One of them was that I would report this to the Commission, and the second one was to find out about Vince Blake.’ It was through a friend who is a police officer that Warren discovered that Blake died in the late 2000s.
By telling his story, Warren also wanted people to know that abuse occurred in state schools too, not just religious schools and institutions.
Warren said to the Commissioner that after his private session ‘I want to be able to walk out of here tonight [thinking] “It happened”, and from my point of view, these things need to end, because it will kill you, and I just want it to end’.