‘I was in state care from the age of I think, about nine. I used to go to respite before I actually went into state care because I was ADHD. I was on Ritalin from the age of, I think I was about seven till I was about 14 till they took me off Ritalin. But I was just very uncontrollable.’
From the age of about 10, Wyatt lived in various state-run residential group homes in Adelaide but he often ran away because he didn’t like being told what to do. He rarely went to school and he mixed with other kids living on the streets. He was often picked up by police.
‘Police knew me by my first name so it was not a good thing. The police knew who I was and I was always hitting the streets of Adelaide somewhere like Hindley Street or Rundle Mall and they’d always find me getting up to no good. So then they’d either charge me or they’d get one of the youth workers or crisis care to come pick me up and take me back to there.’
While living on the street as an 11 or 12 year old, Wyatt was sexually abused by men who’d pick him and other boys up and take them to their homes.
‘I used to run away from these group homes and there used to be like these rich old guys that used to frequent these squats and that, that we used to stay at, and they used to like buy us shoes and clothes and stuff and take us back to their place. They’d look after us so we at the time, me and my mates didn’t think there was nothing wrong with that, but then he would make us, like give us nice clothes, then he’d make us shower and he’d make us do stuff to each other and we’d sleep in the same bed as him, like four of us in one bed.
‘I told one of the workers this a while back, because I was like the boy who cried wolf ‘cause I used to make up a lot of things as a kid, as kids do. I didn’t think anyone would actually believe me because one of the workers actually asked, “Where do you go when you run away?” and I told her everything … and she didn’t investigate or didn’t even make any enquiries into it.’
Wyatt said he found it difficult when he was no longer a ward of the state and had to do things like find his own accommodation. ‘I had no supports when I left state care. It was basically, “Well, you’re 18 now. You’re not our problem” sort of thing. That needs to change. I believe that ‘cause there’s still a lot of kids in state care today that when they turn 18, they’ve got nothing. They’ve got nothing for them.’
Wyatt’s two children were in out-of-home care in another state and he hadn’t seen them for years, but he was happy they were with a good and loving family.
He spoke to the Commissioner from jail and described the difficulty he’d had throughout his life keeping relationships and staying off drugs.
‘I think, well they basically call Ritalin kiddie speed, and I’ve been using methamphetamines for years. I just think there’s got to be some sort of link – I was on that drug for so many years. I think there has to be a link between that drug and methamphetamines because anyone with an addictive personality, I feel that it’s not a good combination, especially with the ice epidemic. Ice is just a stronger form of speed now and I’ve seen so many people lose control on it … I’ve got no desire to go back to using drugs. I’m at the end of everything now, I’m just over it all. Jail’s just so full and yeah, it’s not a nice place.’
While in jail, Wyatt had obtained his welfare file and found out that as a teenager he’d been on anti-depressants. ‘It was quite surprising that they’d put a 12-year-old on anti-depressants for a start, but I think they were just trying to find a drug that slowed me down ‘cause I was pretty full on. I was pretty active as a child. They ended up denying it, but I think back on it now and I think back then, I don’t think I was in a good headspace.’
Throughout the years he’d spent in jail, Wyatt noticed how over-crowded they’d become. Where once an inmate was assigned a case worker they could speak to regularly, now there was only sporadic contact. ‘I’ve got a case worker which I haven’t spoken to in 16 months.’
He thought ‘the prison population would drop if they would spend more money on rehabilitation instead of spending more money on building more places to stick us’.
‘The last time I went to court the judge basically – doesn’t know me from a bar of soap, but he’s gone through my paper; I don’t look pretty on paper – and he’s basically said, “Well there’s little to no chance that you’re ever going to rehabilitate yourself”. What am I supposed to do with that, you know what I mean? They’re supposed to, even though I’ve done the wrong thing I’ve admitted when I’ve done the wrong thing, and I’ve put my hand up. I’ve never gone to a trial. I’ve always said, “Yep, you got me”, but yeah just a comment like that doesn’t do nothing for a man’s self-esteem when you’re trying to get your life back on track.’