My name is Tony Wright and I am about to take you into a world I was thrown into as a child. This is a story that I fully expected to take to my grave because I know people just couldn’t believe me. I know people wouldn’t believe me because most would have to alter their current world view and understanding of human nature, to accept what I’m saying.
Firstly, I would like to thank Fiona Barnett, Carl Orme and Gordon Myers and those who have supported them, because it is their courage that has inspired me, and following their footsteps shows me the way.
My story has a lot of similar aspect to it as that of those people who have inspired me and it is those aspects that make our stories difficult to accept.
To give a chance for what I convey here to not get rejected out of hand because of some of the outrages claims I will be making, I’ll set the scene of where the tragedy begins:
The place was Woodridge QLD (now known as Logan Central). The year was 1977. I was 11 years old.
Because the incident I’m about to relate involves the Police, I’d like remind people that we are in a time that was before the Fitzgerald Inquiry and after the National Hotel Inquiry. Both of these inquiries focused on the atrocious conduct of the QLD Police, some of whom were charged.
Also, it is obvious to any objective observer of Tony Fitzgerald’s findings that the police had somehow managed to come through the National Hotel Inquiry with a lot of their covert doings undisclosed. It was obvious that the level of dishonest, corrupt and criminal behaviour exposed by Tony Fitzgerald could not have developed that quickly in the police culture.
Also at that time, Woodridge was “Coventry” for those officers who (even at this time when police culture was “The Joke”) still found themselves up on disciplinary matters. So Woodridge ended up with the worst of what was at the time a bad bunch.
One day, I was picked by two detectives, taken back to the police station and tormented by getting slapped around the head, constantly shouted at, and there was much banging on the desk. I was there for hours with just the police. I have written a full account of exactly what transpired then which I shall add as an appendix. The outcome was that I, as an 11-year-old child, was charged with Robbery with Violence.
When I showed at court, the magistrate went off his head at the police officers. He, like me, just could not understand those officers’ intent. He told them just that, and that he was not going to preside over a children’s court matter that had an 11-year-old child charged with such a heinous crime as robbery with violence.
I ended up being charged with stealing, though the outcome was the same. They took a young boy away from his family (for behavioural issues) and locked him up with 150 of the most violent, dysfunctional and criminally mind children in the state – Wilson Youth Hospital.
Though it had bars on the windows and locked doors every few meters, I suppose they called it a hospital because it would be an horrendous thought to put a prepubescent child in jail. I always wondered if they honestly expected my behaviour to improve in such an environment.
The sexual abuse started pretty much straight away. Not from the other boys, but from people who didn’t even seem to work there.
After a couple of times, I started to notice a pattern. It would start with one of the training officers (wardens) pushing my buttons to provoke a response. In turn, their response was to lock me in an isolation cell for the night. At medication time, when I was in the isolation cell, I always had an added large red pill. (The drugs they gave us children, both experimental and otherwise, is well documented.)
I had already told them that someone came in and did stuff to me, but the only response I got was that I must have been dreaming. I knew that red pill had something to do with what was happening, because apart from the soreness I woke up with, I was always groggy in the morning.
So one time I didn’t swallow that pill.
I really wish I had.
I was awoken later that night by someone lying on top off me, smothering me with his stubbled face and putrid breath that reeked of alcohol. I had barely got out a word of protest when the man said, “What the fuck?!” and punched me in the face, then threw me onto the concrete floor, grabbed my hair, and smashed my head into the floor.
I was woken up at unlock, still on the floor, now totally naked.
Though whoever it was that got into my cell had to get through at least a dozen locked doors to get to my locked door, no one had any idea what happened to me and they accused me of making stuff up.
Not taking the red pill worked, because people stopped doing what they were doing, and not long after I was moved to a boys’ home.
It was a SALVATION ARMY BOYS’ HOME at Indooroopilly called ALKIRA.
While I was at Alkira, I was exposed to a paedophile ring of what must be very influential people who seemed to have access to us children on demand.
When thinking of a Salvation Army boys home, it’s the word ‘army’ that best describes the regimented structure of the environment. The home consisted of three residential houses. Each house had a set of house parents and some random bloke down the end of our section of the house who we called the ‘House Master.’ I have tried to gain access to records of the House Masters they had there. But I was told that they didn’t keep that type of record back then.
Tuesday nights was the house parents’ night off, so we were in the charge of the House Master.
Now I’m going to take this story into a place where your mind is going to find it very hard to follow.
It was only yesterday, speaking with Fiona Barnett – that was the first time I’ve ever told anyone this and felt I was believed. Even telling Justice Coate (though she knew of this type of stuff was going on, because she’d already seen Fiona 12 months earlier) during my Royal Commission session, as I was telling, I knew she couldn’t believe these outrageous claims.
So, Tuesday nights at Alkira:
It would start off with the House Master making us a nice cup of hot chocolate. Next I know, I’m stumbling around in a daze with Uncle Chris (house parent) hurrying me up because I’m on bin duty that morning.
For many years, I’ve always had a sort of foggy memories of my time in Alkira. Even the memory of having my arm broken by a House Master – I never remembered this until I saw some paperwork on an expenditure for it. It’s the only documentation they could provide, what money they spent on me. That speaks volumes about the main motive the Salvo’s had for getting involved with housing children.
My arm was broken as I was walking out of the bathroom one day. A House Master was walking in with a towel wrapped around his waist. We both went through the doorway at the same time. As we passed each other, he grabbed my hand and started rubbing it on his genitals saying, “Grab a load of this.” So, I did as I was told, and he obviously didn’t like the way I did it.
With a yelp, he grabbed my arm and smashed it into the door frame, breaking one of the bones in my forearm. I was in total agony, and all he did was grab my throat so tight, it cut of my air. He put his face inches from mine and told me if I said anything, that was only a taste of what I’d get.
The House Master then took me to the house parents, saying he saw me slip over and that he would take me to the doctors. The whole way there he hit my arm saying, “Are you going to tell?”
A truck load of abuses were perpetrated on children at Alkira and every other place they housed vulnerable children; which is well documented in the Federal Senate report of 2004.
But I need to go into stuff that is known to be happening yet never finds its way into reports.
This is what I’ve managed understand of my experiences from the fragmented (drug addled) memories of Tuesday nights at Alkira, combined with some extremely re-traumatising flashbacks I had when this Royal Commission was being instigated in the public sphere.
After the house master would make us that nice cup of hot chocolate, next thing in a daze, me and other children are up in the centre of the roundabout where the flag pole is. We are all still in our PJ’s, and some are lying asleep on the grass. Car/s pull up and we are put in the car/s. The people now in the car with us and moving, are talking. I hear them mention we’re going to “the Judge’s house”.
In the biggest and most opulent house, we children had this stinking stuff put in our faces and told to shut up. If we said anything, it was an instant slap across the face and told to shut up and don’t say another word. We were then given silver platters and placed in positions around the house where we had to stand with our back to the wall, holding the trays which drinks and things were placed on. Then people starting milling around, taking things from the trays, and touching us, and saying things.
From a place where I was standing one time, I could see that boy’s were being raped. As they were doing this, they would be holding a mask over the face of the child being raped. This mask was attached to a gas bottle.
There was one bloke whose image I just can’t get out of my mind. He wore a black mask with a pointy nose. I can’t shake the sense that the hairs and moles on that bloke’s arms belonged to my child care officer who happened to be the only consistency of my experience as a state ward -apart from the abuse I endured.
I couldn’t tell you how many times this happened, because these people know exactly what they are doing… the drugs… the masks. So, I can’t prove anything.
The implications of my story, along with those others who Fiona Barnett has inspired to tell, are very difficult for people to hold in their mind. It is my hope that the logical and rational influences in our society will show the foresight to at least publicly challenge our claims.
I put this dark secret that I have lived most of my life trying to make sense out of, out there in the hope that the future children of this network have a chance of being saved. That can only happen if we are given the benefit of the doubt that this stuff is really happening.