Lure of adventure turned sadistic horror

Former Bindoon boy Clifford Walsh after giving evidence. Picture: Sharon Smith/The West Australian

Reporting violent sexual assaults and revealing the details to priests in confessions only led to more brutal beatings and punishment at the Christian Brothers' home in Tardun, a child migrant has told a public hearing in Perth this morning.

The man identified as VG revealed painful details of repeated assaults, neglect and cruelty at the second day of a royal commission hearing into the experiences of boys at four WA Christian Brothers orphanages.

Testifying with his wife at his side for support, the man described being raised in a loving and close family in Malta.

But after the death of his father and with the promise he would receive an education, he was told he would be going on an "adventure" when he was sent to Western Australia.

The man told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse that the reality was there was no education - instead he was put to work, beaten with leather straps and sexually abused.

The man described seeking solace in a confession to a Maltese priest after he resisted a violent sexual assault and was beaten so badly he was hospitalised for weeks.

He also reported the physical and sexual assaults to staff at the Mullewa hospital.

Both his confession and his reports to a nurse and matron only led to another dreaded summons to Brother Simon's office and yet another brutal beating.

Another priest, Father Sullivan, accused him of having a dirty mind in response to his confession and later also tried to sexually assault him after he was asked to help in the chapel.

The man told the hearing of the times he would run away from Tardun and spend nights in the bush, forced to return hungry and petrified.

He said he could not go to the police, who were 40 miles away at Mullewa, and was overcome with feelings of isolation and desperation.

"It seemed suicide was the only option," VG told the hearing. "I had already planned how I would do it.

"I jumped from a trailer with a rope around me neck, but the rope was too long."



Earlier today, former Bindoon home resident Clifford Walsh told a similar story of slave-like labour and a childhood spent constantly petrified he would be the next target of the sadistic attention of a brother.

"I was always wondering when it would be my turn," Mr Walsh said.

Mr Walsh described being enticed to the room of Brother Angus with the promise of molasses, which was usually fed to cows.

"To me, starved and desperately under-nourished, the thought of that was a real treat," he said.

Then aged 10, Mr Walsh was sexually assaulted when he took up the offer of molasses.

Mr Walsh described being given meat with maggots and sexually abused so violently he screamed in pain, gagged and retched.

When he reported a particularly violent incident to a senior brother, he was shipped off to a monastery for 21 months, only to then be returned to Bindoon.

Mr Walsh told the hearing of two boys dying during his time at Bindoon, one after falling down stairs and the other while working.

He spoke of compensation through Redress and a class action run by Slater and Gordon, saying it was like being abused all over again.

"I would go to my grave happy if I could see justice be done," Mr Walsh said.

"If any parent treated their children the way we were treated, they should be shot."

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