Chapter 9

Personal stories


Around 120 victim-survivors, secondary victims, affected community members and other stakeholders shared their experiences and hopes for the future with the Board of Inquiry. These contributions were integral to the Board of Inquiry’s understanding of the experience of child sexual abuse, as well as how people and communities experienced its impacts, what they considered to be failings of the system, the impact of those failures on their lives, and their insights into what is needed to promote healing.

Many gave consent for their accounts to be published as short, de-identified narratives that capture their experiences in their own words. This Chapter contains a selection of these narratives. The purpose of these narratives is to share the experiences of victim-survivors, secondary victims and affected community members, and to help the broader community develop a better understanding of the life-long impacts of child sexual abuse. By promoting the acknowledgement of harm and outlining available supports, the Board of Inquiry hopes to make a positive contribution to the journey of hope and healing for victim-survivors of sexual abuse, their loved ones and communities. Through further increasing awareness of the prevalence and impact of child sexual abuse, the Board of Inquiry seeks to contribute to a future that is safer for every child.

The narratives are derived from the recollections of victim-survivors, secondary victims and affected community members, and are told in their own words with their own language choices.

People were encouraged to share their experiences with the Board of Inquiry in a range of ways, and their sharing was enabled by three critical factors: choice, control and the option of confidentiality. Victim-survivors, secondary victims and affected community members had choice and control over whether to engage with the Board of Inquiry and about the nature and extent of their participation, and they could withdraw their consent to participate at any time. In some cases though, legal or other considerations meant that there were limits on the degree of choice available to a person — for example, as discussed further below, where legal considerations meant a victim-survivor’s experience could not be shared publicly even if they wished for this to happen.

The Board of Inquiry shares the experiences of victim-survivors, secondary victims and affected community members to create an important public record of their recollections. The Board of Inquiry has not examined or tested the accuracy of these accounts and has not assessed whether there is enough evidence to support criminal or civil proceedings. The Board of Inquiry makes no findings of fact in relation to any of them.

To avoid the risk of prejudice to any current or future legal proceedings, and to meet other legal obligations relating to privacy, the Board of Inquiry determined that it would keep the information and personal experiences participants have shared anonymous and has used pseudonyms (made-up names) for some people. In addition, the Board of Inquiry is not able to share all experiences, because the relevant person shared the information confidentially, because anonymous information is unable to be safely de-identified, or for other legal or wellbeing reasons.

The Board of Inquiry greatly values the experiences participants shared with it, all of which have informed its work. The Board of Inquiry recognises that these were extremely personal and painful experiences and recognises how difficult and distressing it was for some people to share them. Many did so because they recognised the Board of Inquiry was seeking to create a public record of child sexual abuse experiences. Others participated as a way to contribute to their own process of healing. Overwhelmingly, participants wanted to contribute to positive changes that will make children safer in the future. The Board of Inquiry thanks each person who shared their experience and acknowledges their courage and strength.



I had what I think was a normal early childhood. My family was pretty normal. I played quite a bit of sport — cricket, football and lifesaving for the local clubs in Beaumaris.

During my time at Beaumaris Primary School I was abused by a teacher, ‘Tony’, and everything changed forever for me. In the mid-1970s I was in Grade 4. I was nine years old.

At a Beaumaris Primary School photo day, Tony abused me. This wasn’t the first time Tony abused me, but it was the first time it was in a public setting. I was in the cricket, football and swimming teams so I had a few photos I had to be in that day. After the cricket team photo was taken, I was getting changed into my uniform for the football team photo. When I was getting changed, Tony came up behind me and sexually abused me. After that I didn’t want to get in the football team photo. I felt sick.

Being abused by Tony had a huge impact on my life. During primary school, I began to despise teachers and other authority figures like him. From when I was really young I knew that I was a gifted athlete and was told I’d have a real future at the highest level of elite sport if I wanted it. Tony’s involvement in sport at both the school and in the community really ruined my experience of childhood. I went from being a happy-go-lucky kid, to a kid and an adult who was angry, anxious and socially withdrawn. Tony abusing me became linked to the very things I loved.

I loved playing football but my memories of that time now are dominated by avoiding Tony and the threat of being sexually abused.

So many kids over the years have been abused by teachers at Beaumaris Primary School, including Tony. I know now that he and others were moved to different schools. I think a lot of people in the community knew.

I remember a teacher who I will refer to as ‘Avery’ being around when Tony abused me on photo day. Avery didn’t ask me what had happened. In hindsight, I think Avery knew what happened. Avery just told me to get my pants back on, shut up and get in the photos.

I didn’t tell anyone at the time, except my mother, about the abuse I suffered. She told me not to be silly and ignored it. We weren’t allowed to talk about that sort of thing — there was a culture of keeping quiet.

Later my dad found out about allegations against Tony and I remember my dad going to confront him. I remember another parent telling Tony not to touch their kids as well.

As a result of the abuse I suffered at Beaumaris Primary School and other organisations, I’ve had a difficult life, struggling with addiction and mental ill-health. I know people who were abused that have died by suicide. I know other victim-survivors who just use drugs or alcohol and wait to die.

I’ve practised transcendental meditation, which has been incredibly useful for helping me to understand and live with my trauma. It goes deeper than just ‘mindfulness’ — it is a specific practice that I have studied and aim to implement in my life every day. My ice therapy has helped me with anxiety and depression and PTSD. I would really like the inquiry to look into these types of healing methods because I believe they could help others.

I have also had very positive experiences with a 12-step program. I really think meditation and that 12-step program have saved my life in a way. They have been tools for me to turn to when I have been in my darkest times. I really think more should be done to help survivors access these types of supports. I had to go on a long and hard road before I found meditation and that 12-step program and I think the reason it took so long was because there is not a good understanding of trauma in government, in the legal profession and in the community. It felt like lots of places that I went to for help couldn’t properly understand the impacts of trauma.

Over the years I’ve thought that I want to set up my own trauma healing centre for survivors of child sexual abuse. I think there needs to be a specific type of service available for people just with this type of trauma, as well as for addiction. Conventional approaches don’t work with this type of trauma — we need dedicated services.

When I think about the response from the government and Department of Education I look at it like this — if nothing changes, nothing changes. I don’t want an empty apology, the damage has been done. It needs to be followed by change. I think Victoria should introduce tougher sentencing for perpetrators of child sexual abuse. They’re the ones who allowed this to happen and turned a blind eye to what was going on. I reckon teachers knew what was going on. My mind can’t take me back to exactly what life was like back then, but you weren’t allowed a voice. It was just do as you were told or if you were out of line you’d get belted or caned or the strap or detention.

My trauma is why I needed to tell my story — for so long I hid behind a mask of fear. Drugs and alcohol allowed me to hide. There isn’t a day since recovery started that I can forget what took place, let alone forgive perpetrators. Thanks to the 12-step program, I am now five years clean. I don’t do self-pity anymore.

I just want this Inquiry to understand that if nothing changes, nothing changes. We need action to improve understanding of trauma now. The truth needs to come out and there needs to be better support to help people who have suffered this type of horrendous abuse.



While at primary school in the 1970s, my parents arranged with Beaumaris Primary School for me to take extra-curricular lessons after school with one of the teachers, ‘Cody’.

At the first few after-school lessons, Cody was okay. But then, Cody started acting differently in these after-school lessons. He started coming up behind me and pressing himself against my back. Eventually, this progressed to Cody leaning over me and putting his hand down my top. I still recall the feeling of Cody’s hands touching me. Even at the time, this made me feel uncomfortable. But I was frozen; I felt helpless. I don’t recall how many times Cody abused me.

I told my mum that I didn’t want to have the after-school lessons anymore, but I never told my parents when I was a child about the abuse. I recall hiding under my bed and in my wardrobe to feel safer especially when Cody would visit our home.

For many years, I suppressed the memories of my abuse. I did not remember details until I was an adult. In recent years, after an article about the abuse suffered by another child at my school was published, I have been able to recall and describe more details of the abuse I suffered.

The impact of the abuse on me has been life-long. I remember my time at Beaumaris Primary School as traumatic; that there was a sense that no-one felt safe. I feel ashamed that I didn’t try to stop Cody’s abuse. As an adult, I have had relationship issues which I link to that abuse. When I eventually told my father about my experiences, he was horrified and full of guilt.

I thought I might be the only female from Beaumaris Primary School to come forward about the abuse I have suffered. However, I don’t think it would make sense that I was the only one. I have made it my mission to get in contact with other people who may have been abused by Cody. Even though talking about my abuse makes me anxious and panicky, I came forward to the Board of Inquiry because the abuse that I suffered cannot happen to another child.

There is a need for specialised mental health support for victim-survivors, delivered by people who understand what happens in the brains of victim-survivors and understand why their pain doesn’t just go away. Many of my classmates who disclosed similar abuse are still in the process of recovering their own memories.

I cannot bear to lose another primary school friend based on their horrific childhood sexual abuse experiences which should have been stopped by the teachers who knew what was going on and by an Education Department that just moved the problem onto other schools and other children.

Tim Courtney

Tim Courtney3

I was born in Melbourne and grew up in the suburb of Beaumaris where my parents had built our family home. I grew up with a twin sister and an older brother. I attended Beaumaris Primary School between 1969 and 1976, from Grade Prep through to Grade 6.

I enjoyed my time at Beaumaris Primary School when I started. I was excited about going to school, I was a good student and I was reasonably bright. I was young for my grade, so I was small in stature for many years at school.

I was first abused by a teacher who I will refer to as ‘Wayne’. Wayne abused me many times. In or around 1972, my Grade 3 teacher at Beaumaris Primary School was ‘Reuben’.

That year, Wayne abused me in front of Reuben, as if Wayne was showing Reuben how he would abuse me. I remember this happening several more times around that time. Soon after, Reuben started sexually abusing me himself. Reuben would put his hands down my pants and fondle my genitals. Many times, this occurred at lunchtime or after school and often Wayne would watch on while Reuben abused me. Reuben abused me regularly for three to six months of that year. I couldn’t keep count of how many times Reuben abused me.

The sexual abuse I suffered as a child had serious and profound impacts on my life.

Once the abuse started, my behaviour declined at home and at school suddenly. I became something of a problem child. I was aggressive at home and dissociated at school. I found it hard to get up and go to school, and I no longer trusted authority figures. While I was a good student when I started school, my academic side materially declined following the abuse. I managed to finish school, but I was limited in what I could retain and learn.

I did not tell my parents about the abuse at the time because one of my abusers threatened that he would harm me if I told anyone. I can’t remember the exact words he used but I remember feeling threatened. My parents did not know what to do about my change in behaviour; my mother went to the school to seek answers as to why my behaviour had declined so suddenly. My parents had no idea why I had changed.

I have had life-long concerns about doing things in public. I do not like people touching me or standing behind me. When my son started primary school, I found it very difficult when people touched him or interacted with him.

Unlike some other victim-survivors from Beaumaris Primary School who I have since spoken to as adults, I always knew that I was not the only victim-survivor of child sexual abuse at that school. I knew because I saw other children get abused. I worry about how the other victim-survivors have coped. I can still picture the horrified looks on other children’s faces while they watched me being abused in front of them, trying to work out what was going on. My psychiatrist said it was unusual that the abuse had taken place so overtly in front of other children.

When someone is exposed to child sexual abuse, there are inevitably long-term impacts which extend to families and friends. My family and friends have had to bear the brunt of the impacts of the abuse I suffered, including my behaviour changing because of my post-traumatic stress disorder. That secondary impact on them caused them anxiety, and resentment towards me. The impact of child sexual abuse is like dropping a stone in a pond; the ripple affects many people, in different ways.

I do not know for sure whether Beaumaris Primary School or the government knew or had suspicions about my abuse. My belief is that people in authority at the school were aware of the abuse and tried to put things in place to try to stop the abuse that ultimately weren’t successful. I reported my abuse by Reuben to police, but the matter did not proceed.

I first sought support in connection with the abuse I suffered when I was aged in my early 20s. Around 1999, I went to the Law Institute of Victoria to ask about getting legal advice around making disclosures about my abuse.

I have always felt like that there were not enough formal systems in place to help me and other survivors obtain support. I relied on my family and my networks to help me find and build my support network. My experience is that there is still a gulf between places recognising that you have been abused and places that help you address that abuse. For example, knowmore has been a helpful legal service to make me aware of my rights as a victim-survivor, but they are not resourced to guide you through subsequent processes.

I have seen a psychiatrist and a trauma psychologist about my abuse. The support they have each provided to me are materially different and have helped me in their own ways. My psychiatrist has done many forms of psychotherapy and discussed other forms of treatment with me and has been able to offer me in-patient intervention and pharmaceutical treatment when I’ve needed it. My trauma psychologist observes how I am feeling and gives me exercises to do when she observes me starting to dissociate. Both clinicians have been very important to me.

With the assistance of my lawyers, I have also accessed the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal. I couldn’t have accessed this help on my own because when I first found out about it, it was too overwhelming, too complex and too poorly explained for me to navigate by myself. I made a civil claim against Beaumaris Primary School and the Department of Education in connection with the abuse I suffered.

I am participating in this Board of Inquiry because I want to shine a light on the child sexual abuse which occurred to me and others at Beaumaris Primary School and other schools, which I hope will increase awareness of the risks of child sexual abuse and improve the supports provided to child and adult victim-survivors of sexual abuse.

In some ways, I feel lucky that I have been able to draw on my family and my networks to obtain legal and other supports. I recognise that not everyone is so lucky. Currently, I feel that the provision of support to victim-survivors, including legal, counselling and family support, is very disparate and difficult to navigate. This is not helped by, in my experience, the impact of child sexual abuse overwhelmingly reducing a victim-survivor’s capacity to do things, take on information, process that information and solve problems.

Mental health services are often hard to access and expensive. I have observed what appear to be fewer and fewer psychiatrists specialising in child sexual abuse who are willing to take on new clients. More mental health services need to be funded and made available specifically to victim-survivors of child sexual abuse.

I believe that victim-survivors of child sexual would be immensely assisted by the introduction of a ‘one-stop shop’ which a victim-survivor can contact to report their abuse. The organisation can then triage their various needs, advocate for their rights, and provide the necessary advice and referrals to guide them through the process of seeking mental health support, social networks, redress and recognition. I often receive calls from people asking me to recommend a service which can support them as a victim-survivor of child sexual abuse, and I find that I do not know of a single entity I can suggest that they contact to cover off on their needs, or at least refer them in the right direction.

Access to support services must also be improved for secondary victim-survivors such as friends and family members of victim-survivors who may themselves be exposed to post-traumatic stress disorder and other impacts of abuse. There should be a way for families to access support as early as possible to prevent the impacts of abuse, from becoming intergenerational.

In my experience, there are often delays in victim-survivors coming forward to report their abuse because of threats of retaliation and shame. Again, I believe that early intervention, particularly in childhood, is very important because delays can make victim-survivors increasingly socially isolated. I support the mandatory reporting reform which has occurred in Victoria since I was a child. However, I do not think mandatory reporting is enough and might sometimes be difficult or confronting for school staff to navigate. Independent reporting mechanisms and a whistleblower policy should be introduced within schools to allow teachers, students, parents and other members of the community to report allegations or suspicions of child sexual abuse without risk of repercussion. Such reports should be received by an independent third party, outside of the Department of Education and school structures, who then investigates the complaint. I think Victoria should look to other jurisdictions, within Australia and outside of Australia, to see if there are suitable models to study.

The standard of education for child safety has improved since I was at school. Back then, the standard was that a child should be seen but not heard. Today we listen to children more. But the risks to children have still not been totally removed. I think more could still be done to educate children, teachers and members of the community on child safety.

Finally, I think a memorial for victim-survivors at Beaumaris Primary School should be built. I think it would be an important landmark and public acknowledgement of the history of child sexual abuse at the school to assist in the healing of victim-survivors. A memorial at Trinity Grammar School in Kew or a central one like the Victoria Police memorial at Kings Domain could be considered for Beaumaris Primary School and perhaps extended to all abuse survivors from Victorian government schools. Such a memorial should be positive, recognise the past and show what the future looks like. It could be placed near the Department of Education’s head office. It cannot be hidden.



I was born and grew up in Beaumaris with my family. I thought the area was great to grow up in, especially having the beach so close by. My siblings and I attended Beaumaris Primary School.

I remember one year that I found out I was going to be in Grahame Steele’s class the following year. The kids who liked sports hoped to be in Mr Steele’s class since he was the sport teacher and it seemed like the best opportunity to get access to coaching and the school sports teams. I was really into sport so when I found out I was going to be in Mr Steele’s class the next year I was happy with that outcome.

I was sexually abused by Mr Steele on three occasions that I can recall.

The first time was during the cricket season. I had strained a stomach muscle bowling during cricket practice and Mr Steele had told me to stop bowling. A few days later during class Mr Steele told me that he wanted to give me some treatment for my stomach injury. He took me out of class on my own and took me to a small room off the school hall. I think it may have been a treatment room because there was a massage bed in there.

Mr Steele had me lie on my back on the massage bed. He lifted up my shirt to expose my stomach muscles, but he also took down my pants and underpants. He rubbed my stomach with one hand while he touched my genitals with his other hand. That went on for some time before we returned to the classroom but I do not know exactly how long.

When we returned to the classroom, I remember one of the other boys asking, ‘did he dack you?’, meaning did Mr Steele pull down my pants. I said yes and I remember wondering how the other student knew, but I didn’t ask. I cannot recall who it was that asked me that.

The second time Mr Steele abused me was when he and another teacher took a group of around eight boys to a holiday house near the beach. I cannot recall what time of year it was or who the other teacher was that came on the trip, but I remember there being another adult besides Mr Steele. I recall the house we stayed at had two storeys and bunk beds but I can’t remember whether it was a rental or owned by one of the adults.

One day, after we had been to the beach, Mr Steele brought me back to the house ahead of the rest of the group. He stripped all my clothes off and showered me, washing me with his hands and touching my genitals again. I remember him drying me off after the shower as well. I don’t remember too much after that; it went blank for me after that. The rest of the group must have returned to the house.

The third incident I can remember was during the drive back from that weekend in Mr Steele’s car. There must have been another vehicle for the trip as we could not have all fit into Mr Steele’s car, but I remember sitting in the front of his car driving back while there were other kids in the back seat. I remember it was nighttime.

While he was driving, he put me on his lap to steer the car. While I was in his lap he put his hands in my groin area and was rubbing my genitals while I was steering the car.

Students always thought Mr Steele’s class was the best class to be in, especially if you loved sport, because he was the sport teacher. It never occurred to me to tell anyone about the abuse at the time.

I do not recall telling anyone about the abuse at the time and I do not remember anyone talking about those sorts of things while I was at school.

Many years later I ran into some other former students of Beaumaris Primary School. We talked about the school and one of them asked if I knew what had been going on between students and teachers at the school. That immediately triggered memories for me. I told him I thought I knew what he was talking about. I understood that he was referring to sexual abuse of students by teachers at the school. He told me that when he and some of the students in other classes got in trouble and were sent to the Principal’s office, the students would tell the Principal that they knew what was going on between teachers and students and threatened to tell someone if they were disciplined. I understood this to mean that students would use the threat of reporting the sexual abuse of other students to not be disciplined.

I was shocked and angry when I heard that other people knew what was going on and it seemed to me that they had used this information to their advantage. But they were only 11-year-old kids, so I can’t be angry that they didn’t stop it or tell anyone.

On the face of it, I think at least some staff at Beaumaris Primary School knew about what was happening, knew that teachers were abusing students, and did nothing.

I want to know whether there was a network of teachers abusing students and if they were working together. How did they end up at Beaumaris Primary School? How were they allowed to continue with nothing being done at the time? I want to understand how these teachers were able to stay at the school as a group and operate over a number of years.

In the years since I was at Beaumaris Primary School I have tried to make sense of what happened to me. I’ve wondered if Grahame Steele targeted the boys he wanted to abuse and, if so, whether boys were allocated to his class for this reason.

I realised the extent of the abuse at Beaumaris Primary School as it has come out in media coverage. I feel there is even more to it, as Grahame Steele had not initially been mentioned in the media coverage in connection with some of the other teachers who have been alleged to have abused students there.

After high school I took a step back and stopped playing sport for a while. My experiences at Beaumaris Primary School have always been there for the last 50 years. I didn’t speak to any family or friends about it.

Recently I told my GP about the abuse and he asked me if I wanted to try and see a psychologist again. I did and started having telehealth sessions with a psychologist. I was open with the psychologist from the start about my experiences.

I’ve also recently told my siblings as well as my children about the abuse. I wanted them to understand me better. They knew there was something wrong and that I’ve struggled.

At different times when I’ve struggled in my life, I have accessed mental health support services without disclosing what happened to me.

I had 14 sessions with the psychologist before I wasn’t allowed to have any more. I’m not sure exactly why the sessions stopped — it might have been a funding issue, but she also left the service I was seeing her through and I didn’t want to start the process over again with someone new.

The media coverage, announcement of the Board of Inquiry and my sessions with the psychologist have all helped me start to come to terms with my experiences. It has been liberating and has gotten me to the point where I can talk about what happened without it destroying me for weeks or months. Talking about it, especially with the psychologist, has helped with nightmares I had been having as well. She gave me practical strategies to start to deal with my experiences.

Previously, I had felt like I didn’t get much out of counselling sessions, but I think talking to the particular psychologist I was seeing recently has helped. It was important for me to have found the right psychologist that I was able to be open with. I think this would be important for any victim-survivor — until you speak to a particular psychologist or support person you don’t know how far you might be willing to take it or how open you feel you can be.

The support of my family and friends has been important and I couldn’t have spoken up today without them. Talking to the psychologist recently allowed me to then open up to family and friends after 50 years of my experiences getting the better of me.

I love coaching sport and I love seeing young people get something out of sport. Coaching kids and seeing them enjoy sport have been part of my healing process. It has been a saviour for me and has gotten me back into sport again.

I like the idea of a public apology to victim-survivors. I know other victim-survivors have been encouraging others to come forward and seeking input on the possible wording of an apology and things like that. I think it would be helpful to sit down and discuss with other victim-survivors what the wording should be. I hope that my evidence to the inquiry encourages other victim survivors to come forward and speak the truth about what happened to us.



I grew up in the Beaumaris region in the 1960s and 1970s and as a child I was sexually abused by a teacher, ‘Marcus’, at Beaumaris Primary School.

I have happy childhood memories of being free, running around parks and playing lots of sports.

When I was at Beaumaris Primary School, I attended a sports class under the supervision of Marcus. During this class, one of my classmates was injured.

I do not recall why, but after the class, Marcus drove me home. No one else was in the car with us.

During the car trip, Marcus reached over to show me where my classmate had been injured. He touched me on the inside of my upper thigh. I recall brushing his hand away and moving my legs towards the door. I felt awkward and uncomfortable. I recall knowing at that point in time that Marcus had crossed a line.

I remember thinking, broadly around the time of the incident in the car, that Marcus was creepy and always seemed to be around.

I would describe that period of time as one where teachers were treated with respect and my family had high moral standards and good manners. In that context, I do not remember calling Marcus any names. I would have tried to be as polite as possible.

The incident in the car changed my feelings about Marcus as a teacher.

I cannot remember who I told about the incident. I may have mentioned it to my parents as an adult, referring to it as ‘that time in the car with Marcus’.

I do, however, remember that after the incident Marcus approached me at school when I was sitting with friends. He leaned very close to me, pointed his finger at my face, and said words to the effect of ‘don’t you go saying those things and making trouble’. I think that my friends and I giggled nervously, but I remember feeling intimidated.

In the 1990s, I learned that someone else also suffered abuse by another teacher, ‘Nick’, at Beaumaris Primary School. The other person told me that boys from the school had similar experiences involving Nick. I suppose it is a good thing to feel that it wasn’t just them, they weren’t making it up. Conversely, how the hell did they get away with it? How the hell did they intimidate those boys so much to keep quiet? That really was, and still is, mind-numbing.

This other person had lots of friends at school and there was no sense they were reluctant about going to school or leaving school. I am not aware that they had any issues at school.

This other person has not spoken about the abuse in detail, but I am aware of the significant impact the abuse has had on them. The other person has struggled with anxiety for years and has difficulties forming relationships.

I hope that the teachers who perpetrated sexual abuse against children will no longer be held up as pillars of the community or as ‘heroes’.

‘Casey’ and ‘Dennis’

'Casey' and 'Dennis'6


My brother ‘Fred’ was a terrific athlete and footy player at Beaumaris Primary School in the 1970s. A teacher, ‘Leon’, was heavily involved in footy, both at the Beaumaris Primary School and in the local area. Friends and classmates told me that Fred was one of Leon’s favourites, and Leon behaved differently around him.

At the time, friends of Fred who knew him through footy were shocked by Fred’s knowledge of sex. At that age, it was something they had no understanding of. Our home was a conservative one and Fred’s knowledge of sex was not something he had learned at home.

Fred gave up footy after school. I never understood it; footy had been his life. I think that Fred decided not to pursue a footy career because he no longer felt safe in the sport. I think that Fred turned down a scholarship to an overseas college because he didn’t feel safe because of the abuse he suffered, let alone living away from home.

Fred never told our family about the abuse he suffered. I recall that, in high school, Fred became fixated on death and dying. Around that time, Fred began abusing substances. He had trouble sleeping and had terrible nightmares which kept our whole family up.

In his late teens, Fred attempted suicide. I watched as my brother became unemployed, homeless and engaging in criminal behaviour. Our parents couldn’t handle him anymore and increasingly tried to distance themselves from him, eventually moving interstate and pulling our family apart. I believe that many of these changes were caused by Fred’s experience of child sexual abuse.

I didn’t become aware of the abuse suffered by my brother until recently.

I never spoke to Fred about the abuse he suffered. I think that Fred loved the normality of our relationship and didn’t want it to be affected by the abuse he experienced.

Fred died in the late 1990s. I never had a chance to talk to Fred about his experiences of abuse. At the time, there was no trauma-informed support available to him, which I think could have saved his life. I could only imagine the severe physical, psychological and emotional wounds that the abuse had caused him; wounds which never healed, but only deepened and became more painful over time.

My brother died the most horrendous of deaths. He is the most gifted person I have ever met. It was his character that made him an extraordinary person. He was unbelievably courageous.


I considered Fred to be my best friend at Beaumaris Primary School. To this day, I still consider Fred to be my best friend.

Fred and I grew up together during the 1970s. We used to spend time together every day; playing football, tennis, cricket and riding. The area we lived in as children was idyllic.

Like Fred’s other friends from school, I noticed that Fred was much more sexually aware than me from a young age. I didn’t understand at the time why that was.

Fred never told me about Leon, but it became obvious to me that something was wrong because Fred was so knowledgeable about sex.

I saw Fred start drinking from the age of 12 or 13. When he drank, he drank to the point of getting smashed. I never talked to Fred about his drinking when they were kids; I just didn’t feel like I had the capacity to do so. I recall a time when we were 15 or 16. We were going to stay at Fred’s place for the night, but Fred told me that we should instead go to a party. By the time they got to Fred’s place that night, Fred had already drunk half a bottle of scotch. By the time they arrived at the party, I recall Fred had drunk the rest.

Around that same time, I remember that Fred became heavily involved in dark music about death. I watched him change completely. Every time we caught up, Fred was a completely different person. I later found out that Fred had been abusing substances, as well as drinking. The last time I saw Fred before Fred’s death was when we were 18.

Fred was a beautiful kid, who was destroyed by what happened to him. When Fred’s parents told me that Fred had died, I felt responsible. I didn’t know about the child sexual abuse Fred had experienced until recently.

I have heard about experiences of child sexual abuse from so many people I have worked with; people lose their families, their friends, their connections — everything.

I only began to understand more about Fred after learning about the child sexual abuse Fred experienced. Why Fred was so sexually aware from a young age, why he had changed so much through his childhood. I think that Fred didn’t join the junior footy club and development team because the person who abused Fred was also involved with footy.

Fred never got a proper funeral when he died. Many years later, after the abuse he experienced was uncovered, his family and friends held a memorial for him. He was going to be the champion, he was the best, none of these people knew what had happened to him. Then they realised why he went off the rails. People never had the chance to grieve because his parents didn’t want people talking about it. It was a beautiful day, but it was a sad day; with grown men crying.

Everyone loved Fred. He was so talented, bloody smart, nice; he had it all. He was such a good friend.

Grant Holland

I grew up in East Bentleigh and went to school at Ormond East Primary School. These days, it’s called McKinnon Primary School. For most of my time there, I was a bright and very happy kid.

I was in Grade 5 in 1973. There was an imposing sports-master at the school named Grahame Steele. He had an authoritarian voice and manner. He wore a brown leather jacket and drove a brown Valiant Charger. He was a charismatic, suave-looking and sophisticated bloke. Boys were completely obedient to him. Whatever he said, you did.

Mr Steele didn’t abuse me in Grade 5, but he did do some unusual things. When he took us for cricket, he would adjust my protective gear for me. I thought that was weird because I could have done it myself. Sometimes, Mr Steele would take some kids out of class to an oval off the school grounds to set up sports equipment. We felt a bit special when he picked us. Often the sporting events didn’t even take place and there was no equipment to set up.

In 1974, I was in Grade 6 and Mr Steele became my teacher. At some point during the year, Mr Steele took me and three of my school friends to his holiday house in Inverloch in south-eastern Victoria. I don’t remember exactly how long we were there, but it was no more than a week.

Me and the other boys stayed in the lower floor of the holiday house. An older woman was staying in the top floor. I recall Mr Steele saying that it was his mother. Mr Steele introduced her to us, but we never saw much of her after that. No other adults were present.

During the trip, Mr Steele took the four of us down to an abattoir. I had no experience with death at that age. Mr Steele lined us up at a railing, which had a big drain in front of it where the blood from the slaughtered animals flowed past. Mr Steele seemed like he knew some of the workers and spoke to them, while other workers killed animals in front of us. We stood in silence while we watched cows getting slaughtered with a bolt gun, and lambs and sheep being slaughtered with knives in front of us then put onto big hooks. The visions were awful. I thought it was worse than cruel. The implied threat that I understood from Mr Steele taking us to that abattoir was that if we disobeyed him, this would happen to us. It was terrifying and traumatic. I still think about it now. We were all very quiet in the car on the drive back.

The abuse happened at his holiday house, not at school. Mr Steele made us take lots of showers; about three a day. We had to shower after everything we did. Mr Steele would make a point to stand behind me and dry me after I showered. Then he would touch and fondle me, also crouching down in front of me. He would stand closely behind me for extended periods and I could not understand what he was doing. This happened every shower time during that trip. As a child, I had no idea what he was doing because I wasn’t sexually aware, but I knew this stuff was wrong.

I talked to the other boys about the showers. We asked each other why we were showering so often, and whether we dried ourselves at home. We were 11 or 12 years old, old enough to shower and dry ourselves. We also talked about being touched in similar ways by Mr Steele. We couldn’t verbalise what he was doing to us and we weren’t emotionally mature enough to talk about it. I didn’t realise it was abuse until I got older.

I’m sure other teachers at the school knew about, or suspected, Mr Steele’s abuse. I recall a particular teacher who seemed to hate Mr Steele, but I didn’t understand the dynamics or nuance of that relationship as a kid. When Mr Steele took us out of class, that teacher would ask where he was taking us and when we’d be back quite assertively. I don’t know if that teacher knew that Mr Steele was abusing kids, but I think maybe they had a sense and they were trying to be protective.

The abuse was traumatic and affected my life. In high school, I went a bit off the rails. I struggled academically, and I couldn’t settle or study. I left school in Year 11 to become a motor mechanic, but I left that and returned to school. Later, I started working at the Children’s Court as a clerk. There, I heard stories about child abuse which really opened up a world for me. I started to understand that I was not alone and that other people had also gone through similar things that affected them.

In the mid–1980s, I gathered the courage to report the abuse to police and gave a statement. Weeks, then months went by, and I heard nothing. Eventually, I followed up and I was told that they couldn’t find my statement. This made me very distressed. I had tried to disclose and wanted people to listen, but nothing had been done. I wanted to make sure he wasn’t doing this to other children. I only found out recently that Mr Steele remained a primary school principal for almost a decade after that first disclosure.

In the late 1980s, I again went into a police station to report my abuse. Nothing came of this either. No-one followed me up, and I gave up a bit more easily than the first time. I just pushed it down and tried to get on with life.

Then, in the early 2000s, I got a call from a police detective out of the blue, asking me about teachers who taught at Ormond East Primary School, including Mr Steele. I went down to the police station and gave another statement. The police asked me whether I could wear a covert recording device and get Mr Steele to admit that he had abused me. I said yes, in the hope of protecting other kids as I was sure he would still be abusing kids wherever he was. At that time, Mr Steele was living in Inverloch, at the same house I visited when I was a boy, so I had to go back there to meet him.

I had to drive from Melbourne to Inverloch police station, and the police fitted a recording device onto me. They didn’t prepare me well at all. I then had to follow the police in my own car to Mr Steele’s house, the house that I was abused in. I saw Mr Steele mowing the lawns. I got out and asked Mr Steele if he remembered me and said, ‘I want to talk to you about what you did’. He told me to come inside. I felt like I was 11 or 12 again. I was shaking, afraid he was going to hurt me. Inside, after sitting at a table and after some initial discussions, he pulled out a photo album from a bookcase lined with many photo albums and pointed at a photo of a student and said nothing. It wasn’t me, but it was a boy I recognised from Ormond East Primary School. I knew his name. I believe that the photos in the album were ‘trophies’ of students he had abused. I told him the photo was not me but a boy who looked similar.

When I asked him about the showers, the drying, touching and fondling, he quickly explained it away saying that he was checking if a skin condition I had at the time was okay. The police never told me how to get Mr Steele to admit that he abused me. I told him how much the abuse had impacted my life, then left. I was psychologically stuffed after that meeting.

I have been on an individual healing journey since then. In my 20s, I suffered from poor mental health and had suicidal thoughts. But when I got married and had kids, my family became a source of strength and a focus for me. That came with its own difficulties. My experience of abuse made me a paranoid and hypervigilant parent. My children are now getting older and have partners, and they will symbolically move away. It worries me how I will handle that. I know that what will ultimately release me is forgiveness — I’ve been trying so hard to find how to find forgiveness. I want to be able to forgive but I am still finding the tools to do that.

At this Board of Inquiry, I was asked if an apology from the Education Department and the police would help my healing process. At the time of this question, I had never reflected on this as a matter that could help my healing. Subsequently, after this process and some media about my matter, I have had time to reflect upon this.

I am fully aware why agencies such as these cannot not say sorry due to the legal implications of doing so. However, after my disclosures became public, I actually wanted someone from the Education Department and the police to contact me and say, this must have been a terrible time for you, we are sorry, and we have improved in many areas to make sure this never happens again to little kids. Of course, they have not done this, and I am left with the feeling that they did not listen or care then, and they are not listening or do not care now. No one called.

The processes, people and sensitivity of this inquiry have been exceptionally well planned and executed and I am very grateful for the opportunity to be finally heard. It has helped me head towards a path of more peace with myself and those around me.



I moved to Beaumaris in the early 1970s. I started at Beaumaris Primary School halfway through primary school, and stayed there until I graduated. Because I had moved schools, I had to find my feet and establish a new network of friends at Beaumaris Primary School. But soon enough, I sort of just fitted in.

When I was in Grade 5, the kids at Beaumaris Primary School could apply to go on a school camp. It would be my first camp with the school.

The convener of the camp at Beaumaris Primary School was a teacher who I will refer to as ‘Lachlan’. I hadn’t had much to do with him up to that point. We were asked to submit a written application to Lachlan about why we should be chosen to go on the camp. My attitude was ‘if there is a camp going on, I’ll put my name in and see what happens’. I had a go and somehow got selected. In the end, there were six to eight kids from Beaumaris Primary School who went on the camp, along with lots of kids from other schools all around Melbourne.

The camp was in south-eastern Victoria and went for just over a week. We slept on bunk beds in a series of cabins. Staff stayed in cabins intermingled between the kids’ cabins. There was a mess hall in the middle of the camp. The camp staff ran activities, like kayaking and orienteering. Lachlan was the only teacher from Beaumaris Primary School who was at the camp.

There was a parent visit halfway through the camp. My parents came down and stayed the whole day. That afternoon, after my parents left, Lachlan came up to me and said he needed to do a welfare check and make sure I was going okay. He asked if I could come with him and answer some questions. Naively, I did.

Lachlan took me to his cabin. He had a sheet of questions. I sat down on a bed in the middle of the room, which was pretty much the only place to sit. He came and sat next to me. Before long, he started stroking my arm. I froze on the spot and wondered what was going on. I didn’t quite know how to react or what to do. Eventually, he put his hand down my pants. That went on for some time. The memories of the abuse are really, really vivid for me.

I remember entering Lachlan’s room in the afternoon, and getting away from that situation when the bell rang for dinnertime. I also remember my internal dialogue at the time. I couldn’t tell anyone because I’d be embarrassed and humiliated. I thought they would laugh at me, and ask why I didn’t fight back; why I just sat there, why I didn’t do anything.

From that day on, I avoided Lachlan at all costs. I remember begging another staff member at Beaumaris Primary School who I will refer to as ‘Noah’ not to put me in the sports team that Lachlan coached. It wasn’t until recently that I learned that Noah was also abusing kids.

For years I preferred to keep my memories of the abuse locked up. The feelings of embarrassment and humiliation lingered. But, I figured, as long as I didn’t say anything and no one found out, I was safe. I was easily embarrassed as a kid, and I’ve struggled with judgement all my life.

I didn’t disclose my abuse to anyone until five decades later. A few years ago, I read an article about a kid I knew, who went to Beaumaris Primary School around the same time I did. The article was his own story of abuse, not by Lachlan but by Noah. I got emotional reading that article. My partner asked me what was wrong. I said that something similar had happened to me and told her everything. It was a pretty raw day. I emailed the journalist who had written the article and told him that I had a similar experience at Beaumaris Primary School with Lachlan. He replied saying he had received lots of information about Lachlan. I was shocked. For 50 years, I thought I was the only one who Lachlan had abused.

The impacts of the abuse have affected both the personal and professional parts of my life. My family and friends have been a great support for me since I disclosed my abuse to them. The people I told were prepared to help me carry the burden. But I was worried that my experience of abuse might make me more predisposed to harming kids. I didn’t have my own children for that reason; I couldn’t bear the thought of it. But over time I realised that wasn’t who I was. Circumstances eventually led me to teach and I’ve now been a teacher for over 30 years.

It has been difficult to work in the school system, while continuing to learn about the abuse and issues at Beaumaris Primary School from media and other victim-survivors. When I go to work, the number one priority is to protect children in my care, but no one was there to protect us. Even though it is not the same people running the Education Department now, in my mind they are still protecting and hiding information about the abuse that occurred in the 1970s. They are failing to meet the very values and standards they put out and expect teachers like me to meet. I have heard that alleged perpetrators used to be moved to different places in the school system, including to regional offices. I didn’t feel comfortable talking to anyone in the regional offices about it because I didn’t know who I could trust. I made many attempts to communicate with the Education Minister and the Education Department head office.

The guilt I have about not disclosing my abuse earlier is overwhelming. I can’t get past the fact that if one person spoke up a lot of this might have been avoided: and that one person might have been me. Speaking about and fighting child sexual abuse in schools is the least I can do. I had attempted to contact the government and Education Department several times. I naively thought we could sit down and have an adult conversation about what was known and try to get an outcome. Almost every time, they would refuse to talk to me or not reply at all. I felt completely shut down.

On a couple of occasions, however, I was able to meet with politicians and with a senior representative of the Education Department who did listen to me attentively and with compassion.

Eventually, there was a response from the Education Department (in relation to a question about an apology), which described what happened to me as an ‘isolated incident’. I’m sure what I went through wasn’t isolated. I believe at least 50 other kids, maybe 100, were sexually abused during the 1960s and 70s at Beaumaris Primary School.

I ultimately got an apology from the Secretary of the Education Department, albeit one which was addressed to my lawyer. However, I don’t think an apology for what happened at Beaumaris Primary School is enough — the Education Department should apologise to all victim-survivors of child sexual abuse in Victorian schools. The Education Department needs to clear the decks and put everything on the table. The apology needs to be based in remorse, not just because they have been ‘caught out’. For some, I know an apology won’t change anything. But I’m hopeful that it gives us somewhere to hang our burden. For me, at least, I think an apology would provide a sense of finality.

I also like the idea of the Education Department putting up a memorial to victim-survivors of child sexual abuse. I would like to see a garden or a reflective place at Beaumaris Primary School, and a broader memorial for victim-survivors of child sexual abuse in Victorian schools somewhere else, perhaps similar to the police memorial at Kings Domain. I think that would be really powerful.



I grew up in regional Victoria in the 1970s. I went to school at the local government primary school.

One of the teachers I had towards the end of primary school was ‘Theo’. He was also acting principal at that school for a while. Theo had a bit of a reputation of being creepy and weird. I recall two incidents involving other children which stick out in my mind. In one, after a boy was hit by a cricket ball in his crotch, Theo responded by touching the boy’s testicles and asking if he was okay. In the other, Theo turned up to school with a black eye, which I suspect was caused by the parent of a particular student.

I recall that Theo pretended to be a very moralistic person who was concerned about children, but I think this was a veneer. I remember that he seemed ‘affronted’ by any immoral student behaviour, pretending to be angry and raising his voice. He would threaten to resort to the extreme of corporal punishment, which was being phased out at that time.

We were a small community where volunteering made the place tick. Theo seemed to spend all his time in the community with children. We were kids at the time; getting any adult attention was only seen as a good thing. Looking back, I feel that he was moving beyond the gamut of what our community expected from a teacher who did a healthy amount of community volunteering.

I was a very sensitive child with a good moral sense. In Grade 5 or 6, I think Theo saw me as an easy target and started grooming me. He targeted me through sports; coaching me, and inviting me out to play sports with him and his friends. At that time, I thought he was an adult I could trust.

The grooming escalated to abuse on a primary school camp. While I was showering, Theo saw me naked with a part erection. He imposed himself into my shower cubicle staring at me and preventing me from drying myself. It sent a message to me that I should be ashamed of my erection. Questioning an adult’s behaviour was not tolerated in the late 1970s.

In my second year of high school I suffered near blanket exclusion bullying, which in retrospect I feel would have been totally obvious to all teaching staff supervising me. I did not feel I could approach my parents to discuss the emotional toll being inflicted upon me. Instead, I went to someone I considered was a ‘trusted adult’ in Theo. However, part of his ‘care’ was exploiting my emerging sexuality. Theo sexually abused me by touching me. This was a massive abuse of trust, and at the worst time I could ever imagine, exacerbating my troubles. The ‘lesson’ I learned from this was acknowledging my sexuality would lead to trouble.

I recall that not long after, Theo suddenly left the school area. I am not sure whether the Department of Education moved him, or whether he asked for a school transfer and moved of his own accord.

In that era, boys were not supposed to cry or admit to any form of homosexual activity. Homosexuality was weaponised by kids and there was shame associated with it. This basically stopped boys from disclosing sexual abuse they had suffered at the hands of men. Sexual matters were generally taboo and weren’t talked about at home.

At age 18, I had a bout of major depression, which has never eased off since. I think that the sexual abuse most certainly contributed to the initial onset of this condition, but there were several other factors.

Around 10 years after I was sexually abused, in my early 20s, I reported what Theo did to me to the police. I decided to go to the police because he was still a teacher and still around children. The police officer I spoke to was uncompromisingly tough and questioned me well beyond the point of tears, I think to make sure I wasn’t lying. This was a time before any sensitivity was given to victim-survivors. It was a dreadful and very bruising experience for me. If I hadn’t had the nous to see what they were trying to do, it would have been totally humiliating.

I asked my psychiatrist at the time to be referred to a forensic psychiatrist. I saw the forensic psychiatrist about the sexual abuse I experienced as a child and explained to them a plan I had devised. My plan was that in exchange for me not pushing for prosecution at every opportunity, Theo was to agree to see that forensic psychiatrist on a regular basis until his likelihood of reoffending was minimised; I just wanted to stop Theo from offending again. The forensic psychiatrist agreed to see Theo, and to report to me on his progress. At the initial consultation between myself, Theo and the forensic psychiatrist, Theo remarked that he had been abused as child. The psychiatrist asked me to explain my mental illness and confronted Theo with the consequences of his abuse.

Theo told us that he knew he had a problem around children and that that was why he had moved to an administrative job in education away from children. Theo agreed to speak to the forensic psychiatrist and to attend sessions until the forensic psychiatrist thought he was ‘reformed’. It felt liberating to be on the front foot taking on the role of a strong adult, and Theo being the diminished person with a big problem. Facades aside, this process was very taxing. Theo wasn’t going to find a facilitator to help me deal with my accumulated hurt.

The forensic psychiatrist saw Theo for sessions for two years. I think they did everything humanly possible to reform Theo. Ultimately, these efforts failed as I am aware Theo continued to offend.

Some years later, I became aware of criminal proceedings against Theo. I went to the police again to provide another statement about the sexual abuse I had experienced. I had a severe episode of mental ill-health immediately after making the statement and I was unable to continue to pursue the matter.

I count myself as relatively lucky — I dealt with the abuse I suffered head on at a younger age, which saved myself a lot of torment and grief. I think it would be helpful for the healing of me and other victim-survivors in this Inquiry to meet.

The Department of Education owes children a duty of care. Children have the right to feel safe at school. I do not want what happened to me and to my classmates to happen again to another child.

I respect that apologies are important to some victim-survivors. Personally, I think it is more important for the Department to focus on taking child sexual abuse in schools seriously and do their utmost to try and deal with it in an ongoing way. I feel that Theo was a ‘rotten egg’ and the Department appeared to have got used to wearing a ‘clothes peg’ on its nose. Otherwise, the Department may have neutralised this stench and addressed it sooner. I would also like some personal and group acknowledgement of this.



I attended Beaumaris Primary School after I moved to Melbourne in the mid-1970s. I remember being a shy and quiet student at the time. It was a new school and I found myself trying to make friends.

‘Dane’ was one of the teachers at Beaumaris Primary School. I didn’t have many friends at school and I was drawn to Dane because he liked me. I felt comfortable with him.

I recall that Dane began grooming me during the first half of Grade 4. Dane gave me extra duties during his lessons. I remember feeling happy and proud that I had responsibilities and I fitted in. Dane would also occasionally brush past me or rub my shoulder. At other times, he would hug me when he sat beside me or kiss me on the cheek.

The sexual abuse by Dane progressed very slowly. I did not realise that Dane’s behaviour was not right. Dane began touching me on my knee or leg and later sexually abused me by touching me [We note Wilbur uses the term ‘fondling’]. The abuse occurred in a part of the school where other people would have been able to see Dane, but would not have been able to see what he was doing.

Towards the end of Grade 4, Dane began to digitally rape me. That was when I first realised that Dane’s behaviour was wrong. Eventually, Dane took me to a storeroom and raped me. I pushed Dane away and the abuse pretty much stopped after that point.

I question whether the teachers knew things were going on and whether there was an acceptance of what was occurring.

I never told anyone at the time about the abuse. I never told my parents or my friends. I never thought anyone would believe me. I thought I was the only one.

The abuse I experienced has really impacted my family and my life. When I was in primary school, there were times I was constantly wetting the bed. I have experienced a lot of guilt and shame as a result of the abuse, particularly about why I did not realise what was going on. I now understand why. I am hypervigilant and hypersexual. For a long time, I had wondered why I felt something was not right with my life.

I have experienced depression and suicidal thoughts. Some days, I can’t get out of bed. I had my first break down in my late 30s and have spent time in hospital. Unfortunately, there are not many facilities in Australia where people can get help for complex post-traumatic stress disorder. The first psychiatrist I saw said they could not help me because they were not a specialist in post-traumatic stress disorder.

Since then, life has been very difficult financially and emotionally. I consider that mental trauma is a hidden disability. From the outside, I look fine; I am able to be articulate. But I have lost everything — I lost my career, my financial support, I had to retire early, I am on multiple medicines.

Recently, I have been seeing a psychiatrist who has been helpful. Previously, a lot of my past abuse was locked away and I could not open it up. I was having nightly tremors and nightmares, and during the day I was having flashbacks. I have now started to relive some of my memories and I have medication that helps me. Talking about the abuse I experienced has also helped me.

I now also see a female psychologist. There is nothing that I have not told her and a lot of what I have told her is very confronting. I am conservative and old fashioned, and it is difficult to say some things in front of a lady. Having said that, I do not like men, especially overpowering men.

I recently made a statement to the police about the abuse I experienced. It was difficult, but brought into reality what happened to me and made it a bit easier. I found the police to be incredibly supportive. I now understand that I was not the only one, but one of many, who were abused.

I consider it is critical for the government to make a formal apology to those of us who experienced child sexual abuse. An apology will give a voice to those that do not have one and is important to how survivors see themselves. I think that any apology should come after the Board of Inquiry as an apology does not make sense until we know the full details of what happened.

I would also like to see a memorial that recognises the suffering of those who experienced child sexual abuse. It would give closure, not only for us, but also for Beaumaris Primary School. I am concerned about the impact this has had on the school and the children who are there now.

I am still trying to come to terms with it all. I was raped. I know that the criminal system can only deal with his actions based on the law in the 1970s; but if Dane was to do what he did to me now, he would be held more to account. This is the saddest thing. He and these men have gotten away with so much. We are left to try and live a life that has purpose and meaning. We are left to deal with the huge fallout.

Hopefully, one day I will get the opportunity to live a more fulfilled and happy life.


'Riley' 10

My husband, ‘Clive’, was a student at Beaumaris Primary School in the 1970s. Clive was abused by ‘Seth’, a teacher at Beaumaris Primary School.

Clive told me about the sexual abuse he experienced many years into our marriage. A few years ago, when Clive said he needed help to address the trauma of his experiences, I felt a sense of relief. Before then, things had been bad and I did not know what was wrong. When Clive first told me he needed help, I had the attitude of: ‘ok, you’ve laid the cards on the table, let’s deal with this’. I have supported Clive all my life and this was another part of life where I could support him.

It was very difficult dropping Clive off at a mental health facility, but I felt a sense of relief. I visited him a few times during his stay, but I think I needed some respite during that time as well.

The last few years have been really difficult. My priority is Clive and supporting him, but it has had an impact on us financially. I had to take leave from work to support Clive because it was getting to be too much for me to work and help support him. I feel that my work did not support me when I made this decision. Maybe if I was the victim-survivor, I would have received more support and empathy.

I worry about the future, both financially and in terms of Clive’s mental health, and whether we will be able to travel like we have planned. We accessed the government reimbursement program for Clive’s medical costs, but the program is very slow at paying. We have paid a significant amount that we are waiting to have paid back and we are spending a lot of money on Clive’s medical costs. We can still pay those medical costs at the moment, but it is a struggle. I can see that the costs would be prohibitive for other people.

I have often been told I need to seek help as well. I am good at supporting someone else, but I suppose I am not very good at opening up myself about how everything is affecting me. I got a lot of joy from working, but my experiences over the last few years have tarnished my ability to work.

I often reflect on how cruel people could do what they did, how they could get away with it and how many lives they have ruined.

After I took leave from work, I told my GP that I was feeling anxious about returning to work and that I needed help. They gave me the number of a psychologist who then had to refer me to someone else because they were not available. I was told a session would be $250 and I would get back $100. I made the appointment but cancelled it two weeks beforehand. I felt I could not justify the cost of the sessions.

Clive and I have adult children who have also been affected by the abuse that Clive experienced. It was hard for them hearing about Clive’s experiences, how those experiences shaped his life and that their dad was entering a mental health facility. They are great kids, but it has been difficult.

It has been a brighter time recently, with the Board of Inquiry. I feel like we are receiving more empathy. I am grateful for this process and that it has come this far.

For me and my family now, I just hope that we can move onward and upward, continue using the services that we’ve found and plan things that make us feel good.


'Earl' 11

I started attending Beaumaris Primary School in the late 1960s and was there for all of my primary schooling, until the early 1970s.

I had a very secure family life with my parents and sibling. I was an average student but I was really into sport and I loved going to school. I liked most of the teachers and I would have said I was a happy pupil.

In the last term of Grade 5, I was bailed up by a male teacher, ‘Baxter’. He came up beside me in a narrow space inside a school building and started whispering in my ear while he put his hand down the front of my pants and into my underpants. I froze while he touched my genitals for 2 or 3 minutes. It was a very isolated spot where he couldn’t be seen by anyone else and I could not get away.

The school year ended not long after, but the school holidays were different for me that year. It was terrible because I knew I would have to go back to school at the end of the holidays and I was worried Baxter would sexually abuse me again. It was the worst school break I had. The closer it got to going back to school the edgier I got. It was hard to explain my behaviour because I hadn’t told anyone about the abuse.

Grade 6 was really hard. There was another incident where Baxter sexually abused me in a similar way to what had happened in Grade 5. He cornered me and put his hands up the leg of my shorts and touched my testicles. I think it went for a couple of minutes. Again, I completely froze while it was happening.

There were other incidents where Baxter would come over while I was sitting with other kids at a table and lean over to rub across my shoulder or the back of my head. He would also reach over under the table and touch me. It wasn’t just me this abuse was happening to, but I felt very alone.

There were two occasions where I was sent to see Baxter, but because there was nobody else around, I just walked out of school and went home rather than be alone with him. I got in all sorts of trouble with the Principal. My parents were shocked and didn’t understand what was going on. I couldn’t tell them why I left the school grounds.

Baxter was also heavily involved in sport outside of school so I had to interact with him in that context as well. Kids would fight to avoid being alone with him and I recall it was often the weaker kids that ended up being most exposed to him.

My dad was also involved in sport so that gave me some protection because he was around a bit. One day, however, I had to get a lift home in Baxter’s car. He drove past my street to drop other kids off, then when it was just me and him in the car, he parked the car and started sexually abusing me by touching me. When he started to undo his trousers, I got out of the car and ran all the way home. Baxter came by my house a few minutes later with the bag I had left in his car and I had to listen to him chatting to my dad after he had abused me.

I was also abused by another teacher, who I will refer to as ‘Jonah’, towards the end of Grade 5, after I was injured playing sport. Jonah took me to the sick bay where he sexually abused me by touching me while I was in a lot of pain.

I feel like the abuse took away my capacity to learn and thrive and be something in this world. After primary school, I completely lost the capacity to concentrate in class and quickly fell behind. All of a sudden, I felt like schooling wasn’t for me. I didn’t want to learn, I was just there to have a good time. It was terrible. I would have flashbacks to the sexual abuse in primary school. I felt like I was the only one that this had happened to and was really down on myself about it. My behaviour went off the rails too and it all continued when I moved to a different school. I remember that by the time I got to late secondary school, I was pretty much asked to leave because I wasn’t learning.

I didn’t tell anyone what happened to me at Beaumaris Primary School for a long time. I kept it to myself for nearly 50 years and I really struggle to tell people about my experiences. I’ve never really had any formal psychologist or counselling sessions where I’ve discussed the abuse.

I never told my parents, either at the time or later on. I was too scared to tell them. The hardest thing for me now is that I’d like to explain to my parents what happened to me and the impact it had on me. That’s not possible now and it hurts.

I’ve recently tried to talk to my family about the abuse. My wife has been very supportive but I haven’t told her everything that happened. I know it hurts her and I don’t want to hurt or upset her. My children are adults now and I’ve tried to tell them what happened, but I don’t think they fully comprehend. I’ve been very protective of my kids. I would always attend any events in their personal lives. I wanted to make sure they were safe and ok.

I’ve also recently been talking to psychologists about what happened. I hate counselling sessions. I don’t like telling my story, especially to people I don’t know and, in some cases, it has felt like the person I was talking to has made it hard for me and hasn’t been on my side. In situations where I have had to start with someone new, it has hit me really hard having to go through my whole story again.

I’ve also been catching up with old school friends. I get support from them and it has made me feel like I wasn’t alone. Some of them are worse off than me and sometimes I feel like I’ve escaped some of the really nasty stuff that has affected them. There’s a support network with other victim-survivors that has been really great.

Aside from taking away my capacity to learn, I think my experiences of abuse have also made me more reserved. It is hard for me to show emotions sometimes. When I was a kid, I was really affectionate. Now, I find it difficult to tell my children that I love them, which I feel like I should be able to do. Instead, I show my children I love them by the things I do.

I feel like the sexual abuse I experienced also meant that I wasted opportunities when I was younger. For about ten years after I left school, I didn’t go to university or pursue meaningful employment. I felt like I’d let my family down because I had lost the capacity to learn.

I’ve also been a functioning alcoholic for over 40 years. I used alcohol as a mask to hide the pain.

I don’t like seeing ribbons tied onto school gates to recognise child sexual abuse. It makes me think about how there are students at those schools now and I feel that they don’t need to know or understand anything about child sexual abuse.

I think feeling like I am being taken seriously has been really helpful recently. The Board of Inquiry gives us worth and makes us feel like we’re good people who just happen to be in an unfortunate situation.

It would also be good to get full recognition and an apology from the State to show that they know things aren’t right. I feel that a public apology from the State would really help.

After all this, I’m just going to move on with the next part of my life and be as happy as I can.



I attended a Victorian government primary school relevant to the Board of Inquiry (which was not Beaumaris Primary School) in the late 1960s and the early 1970s. I really enjoyed school.

When I was less than 10 years old, my classroom teacher was ‘Otis’. I remember that one day ‘Otis’ came up behind me and sexually abused me. I recall the abuse occurred in a similar way several times that year. It felt very bizarre and unsettling. I never knew when he would approach me, but I would just feel him there and the contact that he made with me. Since then, I have wondered how others did not see the abuse at the time.

The sexual abuse I recall really affected me. I did not know how to cope with the experience and I would dissociate often. I had no capacity to understand the abuse or process it emotionally.

The abuse I experienced caused strong feelings of anxiety and fear, but I also had feelings of excitement that came from being touched, which were very hard to process. I remember the sexual abuse like a dark cloud that entered my life at that time and disturbed my world view. It affected my perception of what was normal and what was not. I became distrustful of other people, not knowing my place or how I could relate to them.

After the abuse, my behaviour started changing. My attention to school deteriorated and I became a lot more disruptive in class. I began to steal from my family. I feel the abuse pushed me to a point where I did not feel secure or have much capacity for control, particularly in relation to my emotions.

I experienced some mental ill-health and substance abuse issues during high school and afterwards. The first time I disclosed the sexual abuse was during my stay in a psychiatric hospital, but I feel that they did not listen to me because of my mental ill-health. After this, I developed a distrust of other people and professional help.

I do not think that our mental health system is particularly trauma-informed or understanding of people who have been sexually abused. Building a better understanding of what it feels like to be a victim-survivor of sexual abuse would make a lot of difference. In the future, I would like to see more trauma-informed practice, such as more recognition of people with experience of child sexual abuse so that we can make people feel better about who they are and what they have achieved despite the obstacles. It is about dignity.

I am also supportive of a peer support approach, such as victim-survivor led spaces in communities that sit outside of mainstream mental health services but provide an option for people to be able to talk about their experiences together. Having the support of other people going through something similar is empowering. These spaces are also important to allow people to feel heard and connect with other people. It would be great for the government to look at funding these sorts of programs.

I think scholarships for victim-survivors of child sexual abuse could also be helpful for healing. It would be really interesting for victim-survivors to be able to be researchers and develop lived experience research on the experience of being a victim-survivor. People who have had that firsthand experience can see the world and communicate with other victim-survivors in different ways and their perspective and focus may be different to other researchers.

I also feel a public apology could be very healing for people to have, as it makes it feel like their experiences are real. It puts on the record that the child sexual abuse did happen, and it harmed people. I am angry, and I am sure there are many people living with the impact of child sexual abuse whose lives were drastically altered and shortened. I think that not saying sorry fails to give weight to what happened and to the harm that was caused.

It is really important that we have justice and help people to realise they were not the problem, it was what happened to them that is the problem. This justice requires some kind of change and a recognition of the wrongdoing and the harm it caused. We need to be able to talk about these things in a place of safety, without there being further harm, and make sure things like this do not happen again.



I had what I think was a normal early childhood. I moved to Melbourne in the early 1970s. For some of my childhood, I attended Ormond East Primary School.

I have very good, concise memories of primary school. I have memories of being bullied at school. I remember sport was a big part of school — you were playing sport, generally footy and cricket, Fridays and Saturdays. I was not, and am still not, interested in sport.

During my time at Ormond East Primary School in the mid-1970s, I went to a school camp a few hours away. I was about 10 years old at the time.

On one day of the camp, I remember showering at the end of the day in the shower room with other students. A teacher, ‘Alfred’, was in the shower room supervising boys showering and dressing. I was drying myself when Alfred came up to me and ‘helped’ me, and a number of other boys, dry ourselves. Alfred was overly focussed on assisting me to dry and rubbed my penis and genital area in a way which was overzealous and unnecessary. The unusual nature of Alfred’s assistance was evident to me and several of my friends in the shower room at the time. We discussed it later and agreed it was unusual. Another student came up to me and asked: ‘Did [Alfred] dry you? It was a bit bizarre, a bit weird’. I do not recall the exact words I used but I said something along the lines of: ‘Yeah that was a bit bizarre’. This was the only time I experienced sexual abuse by Alfred.

Whilst at the time I thought the behaviour of Alfred was odd, I did not identify it as sexual abuse. I really did not know what sex was, let alone sexual abuse. I did not tell my parents about the abuse. I grew up in a time where children did not really have rights; they were to be seen and not heard and expected to do as they were told.

I personally consider that the sexual abuse I experienced was minor and there have been no lasting effects. I have not felt the need to seek out support services.

In terms of healing, a public apology from the State might be important to some people, but not me. The same goes for a public memorial; it would not mean much to me but if it means something to other people then it should happen. I would never say do not do it.

I think the focus moving forward should be about policy changes to stop this happening again.

There should also be a focus on ensuring a cultural shift to recognising and advancing the rights of children.

Chapter 9 Endnotes

  1. The names ‘Hank’, ‘Tony’ and ‘Avery’ are pseudonyms; Order of the Board of Inquiry, Restricted Publication Order, 15 November 2023.
  2. The names ‘Christie’ and ‘Cody’ are pseudonyms; Order of the Board of Inquiry, Restricted Publication Order, 17 November 2023.
  3. The names ‘Wayne’ and ‘Reuben’ are pseudonyms; Order of the Board of Inquiry, Restricted Publication Order, 23 October 2023; Order of the Board of Inquiry, Restricted Publication Order, 31 January 2024.
  4. The name ‘Bernard’ is a pseudonym; Order of the Board of Inquiry, Restricted Publication Order, 24 October 2023.
  5. The names ‘Paula’, ‘Marcus’ and ‘Nick’ and pseudonyms; Order of the Board of Inquiry, Restricted Publication Order, 24 October 2023.
  6. The names ‘Casey’, ‘Fred’, ‘Leon’ and ‘Dennis’ are pseudonyms; Order of the Board of Inquiry, Restricted Publication Order, 24 October 2023.
  7. The names ‘Samuel’, ‘Lachlan’ and ‘Noah’ are pseudonyms; Order of the Board of Inquiry, Restricted Publication Order, 15 November 2023.
  8. The names ‘Tobias’ and ‘Theo’ are pseudonyms; Order of the Board of Inquiry, Restricted Publication Order, 31 January 2024.
  9. The names ‘Wilbur’ and ‘Dane’ are pseudonyms; Order of the Board of Inquiry, Restricted Publication Order, 31 January 2024.
  10. The names ‘Riley’, ‘Clive’ and ‘Seth’ and pseudonyms; Order of the Board of Inquiry, Restricted Publication Order, 31 January 2024.
  11. The names ‘Earl’, ‘Baxter’ and ‘Jonah’ are pseudonyms; Order of the Board of Inquiry, Restricted Publication Order, 31 January 2024.
  12. The names ‘Linus’ and ‘Otis’ are pseudonyms; Order of the Board of Inquiry, Restricted Publication Order, 31 January 2024.
  13. The names ‘Cecil’ and ‘Alfred’ are pseudonyms; Order of the Board of Inquiry, Restricted Publication Order, 31 January 2024.