From his Californian bungalow in an upbeat suburb of Perth, Gary
keeps an eye on the newspapers and listens to radio reports about
the Royal Commission into child sexual abuse. He is endlessly moved
by the courage of so many people who suffered at the hands of their
“Something really bad happened to me when I was 10 years old
and I didn’t talk to anyone about it,” he says over the telephone on a
flawless autumn day this May. “It wasn’t until last year when the Royal
Commission started to unearth all these stories about children being
shamed into silence that I decided it was time to tell.”
He wrote a submission to the Royal Commission and awaited a
Gary’s abuser was a stranger – a charismatic and disarming character
who approached Gary and a friend on a Saturday afternoon in 1962 as
the boys hunted for treasure at the local rubbish tip. The man then lured
Gary to a public toilet block where he sexually assaulted him. The events
of that day are printed like a photograph on his memory, but it was what
happened later that really changed the course of his life.
“I knew this guy had done something wrong so I went straight home
and told my mother,” says Gary, calling up the same indignation he felt
on the day of the assault. “She listened to me and sat there, almost like
she didn’t know what to do next. Then, being a strong Catholic, I assume
she went to tell the priest.”
The following Monday, Gary’s mother said the priest wanted to talk to
him. “She sent me up to the church all by myself; not to the confessional
booth but to the priest’s office with its big windows, huge chairs and this
enormous wooden desk. I was terrified.” The priest asked Gary a series of
confusing questions like had he encouraged the man, had he enjoyed it
and was he one of those ‘naughty homosexuals’. “He called me a sinner
and told me to stay out of trouble,” says Gary. “My father was never
told and my mother never mentioned it again.” The offending stranger
disappeared into the ether.
Gary replays these days in his head, over and over. He is still amazed at
how quickly he was made to feel like the perpetrator and how “nobody
thought to call the cops”. With time though, he has come to understand
“My father was a domineering man and a strict disciplinarian,” he says.
“When I was seven my mother gave birth to a baby girl who died, and
soon after that, my parents separated. My mother and I moved into
a rundown rental and she worked as a cleaner to pay the bills. It was
rare for a wife to leave her husband in those days, and my mother was
petrified of being viewed as a tainted woman by the church.” Having a
son who was branded a sinner would have only made matters worse.
Carrying a sense of responsibility for his mother’s wellbeing and eager
to please a disparaging and distant father, Gary learned to adapt to
whatever his parents found most pleasing. Like many survivors, he made
himself busy and became an achiever, reasoning that people would
value him for his performance and accomplishments.
“I’ve had a successful career and held senior roles in large organisations.
In my 40s I completed a master’s degree and have taught students
from all over the state,” says Gary. “But always lurking in the background
is this feeling of worthlessness and a fear of failure.” He says the actions
of dismissive and harsh bosses always cut deep. “At one stage I went
through a long period of depression and had thoughts of suicide,”
Problems with self-esteem have also impacted his romantic
relationships. “I have had three or four long-term relationships but I
always went in with the expectation that they would end,” he says. “For
the past 25 years I have chosen to be single, but there are many times
when I wish I had married and had a family. I should be a grandfather
Having spent most of his life in a cone of silence, Gary is almost surprised
at how good it feels to tell his story. “Talking about what happened to
me has been cathartic and taken away some of the isolation. I like to
be seen as a survivor and not a victim, which is why I agreed to help
ASCA make a video about the plight of survivors,” he says, referring to a
series of short educational videos that will soon be available on ASCA’s
website. “Before they turned on the camera, the ASCA interviewer asked
me what I hoped to gain from participating, and I said: All I want is for
someone to say it wasn’t my fault and to give me a hug.”
A few weeks ago, Gary got a letter back from the Royal Commission
thanking him for his submission and stating that his case was outside
the terms of reference. “I knew this might happen, but it was important
to clarify things anyway,” he says. “I feel stronger for it.”
These days, Gary spends his time travelling, volunteering at a local Men’s
Shed, and visiting his 95-year-old mother. He reckons he is better at
dealing with authority and tries not to overreact to perceived slights by
He says his new-found sense of strength has helped him to maintain
friendships. “Going public had a mixed outcome with my friends. All of
my female friends responded well, but some male friendships have been
strained. One guy I have known for 45 years was initially withdrawn,
while another friend of seven years dropped me like a stone,” he says.
The rejection gnaws at Gary. “Whenever things like this happen it makes
me feel like the perpetrator all over again, but I don’t feel the need to
blame people anymore.” He says he doesn’t regret his decision to reveal
his abuse history. “I can’t go back and I don’t want to. After I made
the video with ASCA I was buzzing for a week. Finally I felt heard and
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The Royal Commission is presently gathering responses on the possibility
of a national mandatory compensation scheme for victims of child sexual
abuse. Hopefully there will some clarity around this matter when the Royal
Commission presents its interim report which was due at the end of this
month but has been put back several months. As a general principle
Australian Baptist Ministries would be committed to support such a
proposal. At this stage without any clarity about the details of such a
scheme we would obviously want to be sure it provides justice and equity
for the victims of child sexual abuse.
National Ministries Director
Australian Baptist Ministries
Bravehearts’ key purpose is to educate, empower and protect Australian kids from sexual assault.
On meeting with Hetty Johnston (Bravehearts CEO) at the Youth, Technology and Virtual Communities Convention (29 Apr – 1 May, 2013) – the planned RC Report was discussed in more detail. Having received numerous Statements, PMSA correspondence, Notices of other Reports and feedback from current Employees – even the Report of this site covers a large footprint of CSA.
“Some truths may have been hidden for years, yet certain memories last forever.”
Government agencies, organisations and individuals who may have information or documents relevant to the work of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse can all be required to produce them.
What is an institution?
What powers does the Commission have to require production of documents or summon witnesses?
What is a reasonable excuse for not complying with a summons to give evidence or produce documents to the Commission? (cont…)
To provide details of impacts of “Child Sexual Abuse” from some of BBC’s Staff – statements will be collected in a Report, assisting in “Institutional Responses” (BBC Staff). As Tony Harewood (pref. A. Strickland) has been registered with RC as a ‘Collecting Aide’ (340607) for another Institution, this number will continue to be used.
Some past BBC peers have received an Invite (via FB), which are able to send to others.
Beginning with this formal link to “Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse”, provided is the URL for this matter. As this site’s purpose is to collect Statements from Old Collegians of the placement of (Anthony) Kim Buchanan (Rudd & Hamilton Houses).
NOTE: Continuing the Objectives of this Royal Commission, monetary claims will not be involved in this investigation. Its purpose is to collect Statements of past BBC Students of their recollection of contact with this BBC Staff (Boarding Master, Teacher, Sports Coach & Housemaster), in support of further Investigations. Should additional details or alterations be necessary – either make a Post or Message Tony Harewood.