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Implementation of the recommendations of the Lost Innocents and Forgotten Australians reports

CHAIR —Welcome, Mr Bradwell. I have your submission, thank you. I know you want to talk to it and I know that it is tough for you, so we will just see how it goes. Would you like to make an opening statement and then we will go to questions?

Mr Bradwell —I ended up in the so-called hospital, which was actually a maximum security prison for children to be abused. One of the things I have here has ‘Wilson Youth Hospital’ on it. What hospital does not have doctors? What hospital does not have nurses? What hospital has security guards that attack children and dark rooms where children get mentally and physically abused? I have scarring all over my body from the abuse. What led up to that actual incident is that I was wrongfully arrested because two so-called detectives from Logan—it used to be Woodridge—CIB that were determined to lock me away and class me as an animal. Yes, I had problems as a child but for the majority of children back then there were a lot of family issues and everything else. They never had words like ‘depression’ for things like that and there was no help for children. All you got was: ‘You are a wrong child; you are an animal; you deserve to be in prison; you deserve to be treated like an animal’—getting kicked around, getting raped, and basically being tortured.

It was not just me; there were an awful lot of other children that were physically and emotionally abused by the system in this so-called hospital. When I was about 20 years old I tried to get a lot of proof to support all my stuff but all I can say is that the only proof I have are the scars on my body. I have scars all over my back; I have anal scars and I have penis scars from so-called doctors that are ‘screws’. Ever since I was 11 or 12 years old when I first went in there I copped physical abuse from the Queensland police. I would not sign a statement so they spat on me and treated me like a piece of dirt. I had a phone book put against my stomach and I had the crap beaten out of me. After they had finished they laughed at me and spat on me and said, ‘Good—that is where scum like you belong.’

All my life I have had to deal with all that. I could not concentrate in school because there was no schooling. How are you supposed to learn stuff in a place like that with physical and mental abuse? They say that it was okay. Today they are saying, ‘An apology, that is good enough. They are just going to have to take it on the shoulder.’ When my wife found out about the Forde inquiry and the Esther Centre, she tried. My wife has seen me trying to sleep of a night and a lot of nights I cannot sleep, and when I do she cannot stay in the same bed as me because I throw punches everywhere. She is scared that I am going to hit her and I will feel like the biggest mongrel on the earth because I have hit my wife. I have tried to get services from the Esther Centre. They have given a tiny bit of help and then said there was nothing they could do for me. The Aftercare Resource Centre gave me a little bit of help for a while. They paid a head shrink to work with me for a while and he brought some things out and he kept saying that it was not my fault.

For an awful lot of my life I kept thinking it was my fault and that I deserved everything that happened to me, I was meant to be nothing but an animal for the government to abuse. I have even tried to get help so I could start learning how to do courses and how to do a lot of other things but nobody ever wants to help an animal. It is not just me thinking like that. There are an awful lot of kids who were going through the system at the same time—whether it was males or females. They are probably thinking the same thing, that they are just animals to the government to be used as a sex toy. Every time I look in the mirror I do not even see myself as a human.

Just recently all this redress stuff has come up. I have a lot locked away inside me. I have not even told my wife about a lot of stuff—I have not been game to. They brought a lot out about what happened. Basically I have had no support. I had an incident not long ago with the Queensland police force. Five police officers in one car abused me over a bald tyre on a spare wheel. They could not get me on one so they tried another. They checked up on my history; I have had to be a fighter all my life. That is the way I have grown up—to fight like an animal.

They keep saying, ‘Apology—we’re sorry.’ Sorry is supposed to count for what? Where are the real words for ‘sorry’? You have to put up with the abuse in your life. At 23 I had a little girl, and she has grown up. She has had a lot of dramas with the children’s services department and everything else. I do not care what they call them these days; to me they are just children’s services. My daughter herself has had two children, and they have gone through the system now. When my granddaughter, who was about 17 months old, was first taken, it was only about ‘concerns’. There was no proof or anything. I have had to relive that because of the traumas my granddaughter has had to live with. She was involved in a car accident, and the department of children’s services never told my daughter anything. My daughter just had to be told by the carer. Then my granddaughter got foot and mouth disease, and they said, ‘That’s okay.’

I have tried with Lotus Place to get some sort of support for my daughter and also help me, because it is bringing back memories of what happened to me, and nobody can help, no matter what it is. I have asked for a lot of help with a lot of different things, whether it is to help me, my daughter or my wife. In the end it is helping me because it is trying to fix some of my past that cannot be forgotten and to try to look forward to a better future, but all I seem to be getting is basically the same response: ‘You’re an animal; it’s all you fucking deserve to be.’ Sorry.

CHAIR —That is okay. You have written your submission and talked to us this afternoon. I know it is very difficult and very traumatic for you.

Mr Bradwell —It is tearing me to pieces.

CHAIR —Is there any particular thing that you think that the Senate inquiry can do for you.

Mr Bradwell —To be honest, I would give up the so-called redress if I could just get a little bit of my life back, such as just getting the two police officers, allegedly, and give them the treatment that they gave me. It would give me part of my life back. I would be happy with that and I would walk away from the whole lot. I would not worry about Redress, the Forde Foundation, Lotus Place or anything. I would just go back to living my life as I used to, shutting off the whole world, instead of having all these bad memories come back on me.

Honestly, I do not know what help can be given there. All I can say is: try to give my grandchildren a better future than I had. When my grandson was born, he had a bad case of yellow jaundice. The department was waiting to take him, only over concerns. Instead of working with my daughter, their idea is to take the child. Instead of working with the parents to give them a better future for their children, it is the same as: ‘Who cares? Take the children.’ That is the way the government has always looked at it: ‘Take the children.’ It never worked with the families—‘Just take the children.’ Then, when the kids grow up to be so screwed up in the head, they say, ‘We’re sorry for that generation too.’ That is all it is ever going to be—sorry for the generation. What does ‘sorry’ do? It is like closing the gates after the horse has bolted. What good is the paddock? It is empty; it is no good.

My main thing is that I just want a much better future for my grandchildren than I have had. In a lot of ways it has made me a better person, but in a lot of ways it has made me an absolute animal. I cannot stand the Queensland police force. As far as I am concerned, the only good cop is a dead cop because of what has happened and the way they have treated me. All through my life, I have had nothing but abuse from the cops. Every time you try bringing things like that out—the abuse that they have done—you get treated like a liar and a hypocrite.

I have tried at Lotus Place to get help. Nothing. I even tried to get some sort of financial help through the grants at the Forde Foundation so I could try to get a computer. My wife and I have been involved with Forde now since about 2003 or 2004. I have had two grants out of that. Every other time it has been: ‘Sorry, you don’t fit the criteria.’ But they do not tell you the reasons, just: ‘You don’t fit the criteria.’ Instead of saying, ‘Because we have had X amount of people this time, try again next time,’ it is: ‘No. Sorry, you just don’t fit the criteria.’

So you go to ARC, Aftercare Resource Centre, for help. My wife sits and watches me tossing and turning all night, yelling and screaming in my sleep—screaming, ‘Leave me alone, I’ve had enough, I’ve had enough.’ But my wife cannot even get help from the Aftercare Resource Centre on my behalf. She is shut out from that too. No matter where I go try to get for me or for my wife, it is: ‘Sorry, can’t help you.’ What am I supposed to do? Since all this redress has come up it has actually opened a lot of bad wounds. Where is the help? ‘Sorry, can’t help you.’ That is all I ever seem to get, no matter which way I go. I do not know what else to say.

Senator HUMPHRIES —I would like to ask a couple of questions. I am not from Queensland so I do not know much about the background of the place you are in. What was the name of the hospital you were in?

Mr Bradwell —It was supposed to be a hospital, but what hospital does not have doctors and nurses? What hospital has security doors, really thick doors?

CHAIR —It was Wilson?

Senator HUMPHRIES —Where is that?

Mr Bradwell —The Sir Leslie Wilson Youth Detention Centre—that is what they should have called it.

Ms Treweek —It was also known as a youth hospital.

Senator HUMPHRIES —Is that in Brisbane?

Mr Bradwell —It used to be over at Windsor. It was bulldozed a few years ago, in 2000 or something like that. They decided: ‘We’ll put a brand new estate in there, all new houses. Who cares about the children who got raped, bashed, murdered and everything else in there. Just bury it—sell the land off and put houses on it.’ That is the government’s way out of things: let’s make money out of the place. They do not care.

Senator HUMPHRIES —Who ran this place—was it the government?

Mr Bradwell —The Queensland government.

Ms Treweek —Wilson youth hospital was run on a medical model, hence a lot of the medical treatments, the isolation and the sedation of the people there.

Senator HUMPHRIES —Brad, you say that you are angry particularly with what those two police did who originally charged you with something to have you put in that facility—is that what you said?

Mr Bradwell —Yes. I would love to just have half an hour alone with each of them.

Senator HUMPHRIES —Have you made a complaint?

Mr Bradwell —I have tried, and it has just deaf doors. I have even tried getting onto the police commissioner—‘Sorry, uncontactable at the moment.’ I have tried on so many occasions. I have even tried to get people to write letters, and it was hard for me to do that because I could not put it down in writing with a lot of strangers. I am not an animal.

Senator HUMPHRIES —That is right.

Mr Bradwell —For me to write down stuff like that down makes me out as an animal, as a sex toy for the government agencies. They always talk about the statute of limitations. If I murdered some 30 years ago, where is the statute of limitations on that? I would still be picked up today, 30 years later, for first-degree murder. Yet the government can do it and get away with it—‘Oh, yes, the statute of limitations.’ It is a one-sided coin. It is government, government, government. Who cares about the people? We are just the idiots who put the government in power, just for them to turn around and abuse us.

Senator HUMPHRIES —You mentioned that the situation in terms of services, and I assume you mean through people like those at Lotus Place, is worse since Redress started.

Mr Bradwell —Yes. It has gotten a lot worse.

Senator HUMPHRIES —Why is that?

Mr Bradwell —No-one wants to give you answers. If you try to talk to anyone from Redress they give you the political run-around. We are the ones who have had the abuse, not them. They are getting paid to do all this for us, yet it is like they are the ones who had all the stuff done to them. We are just animals to them, too. That is the way I feel. If you ask questions and it is: ‘Oh, sorry, can’t help you.’ No-one wants to give straight answers. Why is that? That is what a lot of us cannot work out. They are supposed to be there as a board to work with us or work for us, or whatever it is supposed to be—for the former residents, the ones who had the abuse. Where is it all? It is back to the same old thing: ‘Do what we tell you, not what we’re doing.’

Senator HUMPHRIES —The story you told us about being abused is a story that the committee has heard many times from many people in every state, so do not imagine that you are the only person who has had this experience. There are, sadly, all too many people who have.

Mr Bradwell —That is why I was talking about all the other children that got abused, not just me—and ones that are actually a lot worse than me, that have actually been murdered over it, left in wheelchairs and everything else.

CHAIR —Senator Furner

Senator FURNER —Mr Bradwell, thanks for your courage in coming along today and telling us your story. In your submission you indicated that at some stage you wanted to start your own business. What would you like to do in terms of that particular area?

Mr Bradwell —I have been trying to get a small transport business off the ground, and every time I start getting somewhere I get shut down by things. At the moment, I have done up business cards, I am trying to hand them out, but they keep saying, ‘Email us.’ It is the same with the Forde foundation. I tried getting a computer and getting skills to use a computer. I know how to turn one on and play games on it; that is it. I do not know anything else about a computer. When people try start throwing this stuff at me, I go, ‘Huh?’ I am like a docile idiot. I am totally illiterate when it comes to that sort of stuff. I am no good at reading, I am no good at writing, but everybody says, ‘Put it in writing, do this, do that.’ I cannot, because I have no skills.

I was thrown in a maximum security prison for kids, with no education in there, and then they expect me to have a natural life when I come out. I could not concentrate when I got back out, in schooling and that. I was going from school to school. I went to Woodridge State School, Logan Reserve State School and Waterford West State School. One teacher actually took me aside, out of the whole school, basically, and worked with me for two years. Then, when I started high school, I could not even concentrate. I actually punched the headmaster out because he gave me the cane—because it all just came back to me what happened in Wilson. My head just clicked and I just lost it, and I got expelled from high school. I was not even there a full year. Because of the trauma—it was another one abusing me, so I just lost it.

Senator FURNER —Do you currently have road transport equipment yourself? Do you have a truck?

Mr Bradwell —I did have a truck, but the motor on it went and now I am down to just a one-tonne ute. From time to time I get a little bit of work, but that is about it. Sue Treweek has been given me a some work with her—and she has seen me quite a few times when I have been down, and how jumpy and nervous I have been around police and stuff like that. The police do not even come anywhere near me, but it is just the thing of them being around me, because my back is turned to them and I do not know when they are likely to walk up and hit me. That is the thing in the back of my head; it is just from the trauma I have had from the cops. You are supposed to put them down as good, reliable people. How can they be good, reliable people when in the back of your head you know they are going to beat you? Because you have had so much abuse from the system, from the so-called police force. They are supposed to be there as public servants to work with us and make it a better world. But I am not the only one that has had abuse from the police. The police have also been child abusers, rapists, paedophiles; they have been drug dealers. There is that much corruption in the police force—it does not matter whether it is Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria; they are just corrupt. Sorry.

Senator FURNER —No, you’re all right. Thank you.

Mr Bradwell —It does not matter how much I try; I keep getting knocked down.

CHAIR —Senator Boyce.

Senator BOYCE —Mr Bradwell, you said earlier that there was no evidence of your history. Do you mean of the abuse itself or of the fact that you were at Leslie Wilson?

Mr Bradwell —No, I have got proof that I was at Leslie Wilson, but there is no proof of the abuse—yet I have got all the scarring on me. I have got ridges up my back, indentations, from where I was whipped. I got little bars slammed across my back. I have got ripples all the way up my back. I am not being rude and disgusting on this one, but I have actually got scarring on my penis and everything from it.

Senator BOYCE —Who else have you told about that abuse who you hoped might do something?

Mr Bradwell —I have told Lotus Place. I have even tried to do an impact statement. It never got done. It was just, ‘Do it later.’ I have tried to do a lot of stuff through Lotus Place. Even when it used to be the Esther Centre before they moved to the new building, I sat and talked to them. There was no response. I have been left thinking that is just the way I am meant to be—I am meant to be an animal.

Senator BOYCE —No-one is meant to be an animal, Mr Bradwell.

Mr Bradwell —That is the way it is in my head. Every time I try to get help no-one cares. ‘You’re just an animal. That’s all you are’—that is the feeling I am getting.

Senator BOYCE —Your submission is very easy to read and it sets out exactly what you wanted to say. You do have the ability to get your thoughts and views across.

Mr Bradwell —I had no choice. I also had to spend a few years on the streets because I could not handle society and being around people. I learnt to keep a lot of it locked away in a little safe in the back of my head. I have had it locked away for an awful lot of years. A lot of it is making me very agitated since this redress came up. I did not have to do much for the first round, but for the second round I had to sit in a very small room and explain why I deserve the second part of the redress.

Senator BOYCE —That has been the really difficult thing?

Mr Bradwell —It has been very difficult.

Senator BOYCE —That is why you say it is worse in a way—it has brought all that back and made you have to go through it all over again?

Mr Bradwell —They said to me that it was okay and to let it all out. It will all fix itself up in the end. It has not.

Senator BOYCE —How long has it been worse for you?

Mr Bradwell —Basically, over the last two months it is really starting to show more. The issue we had with the police two months ago made it even worse. I had five police officers abuse me over one thing. They could not get me on that so they tried another. They were trying all different angles. Two police came from the front and another three came from behind me. My first reaction was defence. I was waiting for another flogging. The difference between then and now is that they might still cast me as an animal but at least I will go down as an animal. What do animals do? They fight.

Senator BOYCE —We all fight if we feel we have our back to the wall.

Mr Bradwell —Five on one is typical for the police. That is how they work.

Senator BOYCE —So you are saying that the police are victimising you for minor offences.

Mr Bradwell —Yes, very minor offences. My spare tyre, which is not even actually on the road, was bald. I admit that. This gentleman here gave me some money to get a new tyre. They said it could not go on the road, but I had good tyres on the vehicle at the time. If I get a puncture, the first thing I do is get it repaired.

Senator BOYCE —Is this the local police in your area?

Mr Bradwell —No, this was in Brisbane. It was the Woodridge CIB before they split up the areas and called it Logan and all that. I can still go to that room—because the old police station is still there—and visualise everything that happened to me.

Senator BOYCE —Was that before you went into Sir Leslie Wilson?

Mr Bradwell —The day I was taken to Leslie Wilson I was bashed and forced to sign a statement—that I never even did. As they were taking me to the police car one of them spat on me and said, ‘This is where scum like you belong.’ I was taken all the way to Wilson and they slammed me into the big door at the very front of the place.

Senator BOYCE —How old were you when that happened?

Mr Bradwell —I was 11 or 12 years old. I was in agony. I was doubled over because of the punishment my chest and stomach copped from the phone book and a closed fist. When I tried to explain, I copped floggings from them. I was put in a dark room and was pissed on and everything else by the security guards. Because they were fellow officers, they were protecting the coppers. If you go one way, you get abused and, if you go the other way, you get abused. That is why I have had to shut off a lot of things over the years. Since this Redress came up I have had no moral support from any of them. I have had to take it on the chin and deal with it. They say there is all this support; there is none. There has been absolutely zero support.

When I had the drama with the police not long ago, one of the staff from Lotus Place, Tony, said to me that he had seen how shaky I was with the cops and everything else. He pulled me out of there and took me down to Lotus Place for a cup of coffee. When I was talking to someone from Redress about the situation, they said that I would have to get a statement from Tony. So I rang Lotus Place, but Tony was busy. I do not know whether he was at a meeting or on a phone call or something else. I gave them all my details and said, ‘Can you get Tony to ring me back as soon as possible, please; it’s urgent.’ It has been about two months now, and I still have not had a phone call back from Tony. My wife said that she saw him earlier at the bottom of the stairs and that he said that he did not get my message. That is a fine example of communication at Lotus Place; they do not have any. They say that they have all these services; they have all this money from the government for all these services. Where is it all going? It is not going into the services.

CHAIR —Thank you, Mr Bradwell. Is there anything else that you wish to add?

Mr Bradwell —No, that is pretty much about it.

CHAIR —Thank you very much.

[2.31 pm]