11 May 2021

Abuse in Care Royal Commission: 'He was screaming he was going to kill me'

10:57 am on 11 May 2021

A man who suffered extreme physical and psychological violence while staying at a Social Welfare approved camp on Great Barrier Island in 1998 is now unable to work due to post traumatic stress.

Scott Carr said he was at the camp for three months but when he returned home he felt detached from his family and ended up on the streets for a while.

Scott Carr spent three months at the camp but said when he returned home he felt detached from his family and ended up on the streets for a while. Photo: RNZ / Andrew McRae

At 12 years old Scott Carr was sent to Whakapakari by his social worker with the support of his parents after being told the camp was just what he needed, as it supposedly provided a lot of outdoor activities.

He gave evidence to the Royal Commission into Abuse in Care on Monday.

Carr said the so-called fun outdoor activities consisted of cutting firewood, gardening, collecting food, doing laundry and hard physical exercise.

He said the food was mainly fish, but only if they caught some and the long-drop toilets were disgusting.

On one occasion he questioned a supervisor and as a result the man attacked him.

"He just let loose, he head-butted me, choked me. He was screaming he was going to kill me. Threw me off the balcony on the front of our tent. He threw me off the front of that and when I landed on the back of my head I got all the scars on the back of my head. In my eyes, he tried to kill me.''

Carr woke up from being unconscious lying next to a punga. The others were not allowed to help him.

He said it left him confused.

"Didn't want to be there any more, wanted to kill myself, wanted to kill them, just didn't know how I could put the flags up so people knew. At the same time I thought it was my ticket home, so I thought, you know, ride it out I'll be going home soon, but I didn't."

He tried to write two letters home but both were intercepted and ripped up and thrown on the fire.

"Before he burnt them he took my mum's address down and her name and he told them if I told anyone about it he was going to send his nephews around and kill her."

The boys were made to carry sacks of stones up to construct tracks as a punishment.

"I think one swear word was five bags, so if you get in an argument and you just start laying it out, they were just sitting there marking lines down. I think from one argument I had 70-bags."

His shoes were taken off him and he spent the next three weeks going everywhere barefoot and the damage to his feet lasted for many years.

He credits a new supervisor with saving his life as he helped him and also got a letter out to his parents.

Carr said when he finally returned home three months later he felt detached from the family and ended up on the streets for a while.

He hid behind alcohol and more than 20 years on later he still suffers flash backs and anxiety.

"I've hidden the vulnerable Scott behind the alcoholic Scott for most of my life. The alcoholic Scott is more confident and safe feeling than the sober Scott. I feel vulnerable being normal."

Carr has been sober for years but now cannot work due to post traumatic stress disorder.

He has refused any benefit because he does not want any help from the system that put him in care.

"Still to this day I get no benefit, I have got no income, zero dollars, I've got nothing. I can't work, can't get a benefit, can't get ACC, can't get nothing. So it kind of leaves me with one option that's criminal but I can't do that because then my kids are going to grow up without a father and it's just not worth them having their problems with their kids, and so on and so on."

Carr said he went from a safe environment at home to an unsafe one in care.

Where to get help:

Need to Talk? Free call or text 1737 any time to speak to a trained counsellor, for any reason.

Lifeline: 0800 543 354 or text HELP to 4357

Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 / 0508 TAUTOKO (24/7). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.

Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757 (24/7) or text 4202

Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (24/7)

Youthline: 0800 376 633 (24/7) or free text 234 (8am-12am), or email talk@youthline.co.nz

If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

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