Warnbro: childhood sexual assault victim still searching for closure

Warnbro resident Dean Wright.
Warnbro resident Dean Wright.

WARNBRO man Dean Wright is a survivor of childhood sexual assault.

At age 16, a senior trainer with the St John Ambulance cadets raped him.

Authorities did not want to listen when he tried to tell them what happened, so he stayed largely silent and the event has had severe repercussions on his life.

It still adversely affects him today at age 52.

“For a long time I had anger issues and problems with alcohol,” he said.

“I tried to report it before but I just got brushed off by the police. Nothing really happened; no-one believed you then.”

Eventually someone did listen and Mr Wright’s case was investigated through the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Childhood Sexual Abuse.

On August 10, at the WA District Court, his abuser Stuart Andrew MacFadyen was convicted on two charges of unlawful and indecent dealing with a male person.

He was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in jail with parole.

It brought Mr Wright a sense of closure but little did he know he was about to receive slap in the face from another level of authority.

On November 4, the Federal Government announced a redress scheme where victims would receive $150,000 compensation.

However, it was not mandatory for the states to comply and as of yet WA has not registered with the scheme.

Premier Colin Barnett said due to a lack of consultation from the Federal level with the States, it had not been implemented.

“There has been no consultation with the States over this scheme, yet we are apparently to be asked to join it,” Mr Barnett said.

“This is a significant issue for the Commonwealth and States, and it is important that we get it right because we need to ensure the best possible support for those affected.”

Mr Barnett said WA has a redress scheme of its own.

“This Government has a strong record in dealing with these issues, with Western Australia’s redress scheme for survivors of institutional child abuse, at a total cost of $150 million.

“This includes Redress WA and the Country High Schools Hostels Ex-Gratia Scheme. These schemes provided ex gratia payments to 5302 people.”

However, as Mr Wright’s abuse happened 36 years ago and it did not happen while at a hostel or school, he is ineligible for the WA scheme.

It is also subject to a six-year statute of limitations making many victims, such as Mr Wright, unable to access it.

“The Royal Commission wanted all states to align and not have waiting times for victims. Now the Premier has said maybe next year,” he said.

“Why is he stopping it? Why aren’t they doing it? Are they supporting the abusers? It just gets so frustrating.

“You get to a point where you have just had enough.”

A motion to remove the statute of limitations on the WA scheme failed to pass in WA Parliament in October.

However, Mr Barnett said work had begun to remove the statute.

“The State Government has committed to drafting legislation to remove the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse, and work has already begun on this,” he said.

The Federal scheme has been introduced by New South Wales, Victoria and last week Queensland introduced it.

“We will need to consider the proposal further, especially its inter-relationship with the schemes WA has already introduced,” Mr Barnett said.

“I intend to raise this matter at COAG.”

Mr Wright said he chose to tell his story as a way to get justice for other victims and help their healing.

“There are others who have had worse abuse than me that went on for years,” he said.

“Many don’t go out of their homes and some don’t want to talk about that is okay I understand.

“Telling the authorities is a lengthy process and daunting one.

“It takes along time. They try to wear you down.

“But it’s worth it. Even just telling someone helps you but you need a support system.

“The child abuse squad, the DPP and police have been amazing.

“I am also lucky to have the love and support of my family.”