27 Jul 2018

NZ-born man who was sexually abused in Australia asking for UN help

6:52 am on 27 July 2018

A man who was sexually abused in Australian state care as a boy is taking his fight for compensation to the United Nations.

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Photo: 123RF

The man, who RNZ has agreed only to name as John, turned to drugs after the abuse and was later jailed for cooking methamphetamine and deported to New Zealand where he was born.

Despite telling his story to the Australian Royal Commission into child sex abuse, John has been denied up to $150,000 in compensation because he is not an Australian citizen or a permanent resident.

John was born in New Zealand but he's really an Aussie battler. He moved with his mother and siblings to Australia at the age of seven to escape his violent father.

But when his mother's new partner began beating him and locking him under the house, John started running away from home and living on the streets.

He soon came to the attention of the police, was put into a boy's home and made a ward of the state.

It was here, at the hands of the very people who were meant to be caring and protecting John, that he was sexually abused.

The abuse happened in the laundry room that the boys referred to as the dungeon.

"He didn't rape me but he molested me every other way you could think of... We kept it quiet because he used to threaten us that he knew where our families were and he used to warn that he'd take us down to the dungeon, put us in the laundry bags and kill us if we opened our mouths."

After turning to drugs and doing three years in an Australian prison, John was sent to an immigration detention centre. Australian authorities wanted to send him back to New Zealand.

It was while he was there that he shared his story with the Australian Royal Commission into child sex abuse.

He was deported anyway and because he's not an Australian citizen or a permanent resident, he is ineligible for compensation.

But John's now briefed human rights lawyer Craig Tuck who is taking John's bid for compensation to the United Nations.

"This case just demonstrates a new low-tide in Australian social responsibility, really treating New Zealand citizens the same way that they're treating refugees, which is indefinite detention followed by deportation."

The Australian government is side-stepping legal and ethical responsibilities, Mr Tuck said.

"They've left us no option but to now complain to the UN in Geneva on behalf of John. Essentially what they've done is weaponise the deportation process for political ends."

Mr Tuck said Australia was likely to ignore any ruling from the UN, as they've done in the past.

"It's absolutely incredible isn't it, that a state, a government that takes responsibility for a human being, ends up abusing them while they're a ward or in the care of that state and then just simply engages a process to get rid of them so that they've got no formal legal redress, so that there is no legal remedy that we can see."

Another New Zealander who was sexually abused in Australian state care is Darryl Smith.

Mr Smith, author of A Shattered Life, was also made a ward of the state in Australia and sexually abused in state care.

"I didn't realise I had to be a resident of Australia to be raped, to be honest. These people didn't stop their actions and say: 'Excuse me, by the way, are you an Australia citizen or resident?' before they went on and did what they did. The Australian government has duty of care."

Mr Smith appeared at a private session before the Royal Commission to tell them what had happened to him.

"Wake up, help your survivors, no matter which country they live in. It has nothing to do with the country they live in today, it is to do with what happened.

"If you got abused in New Zealand, New Zealand is responsible. If you got abused in Australia, Australia is responsible. Don't use the fact that their non-citizens when these things happened, it makes the matter worse. Just do the right thing."

Darryl also had this message for John: "My message to John, my heart is there for you. I'm your brother. As a survivor of abuse in Australia, I understand what you're going through. Please, stand firm and stand against these monsters. Listen to the other people who are helping to get these lawyers together to take these monsters to court and I'll be with you eventually myself. Your friend, Darryl."

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