Newspaper article The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Australia)

David Fulfils Mum's Dying Wish

Newspaper article The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Australia)

David Fulfils Mum's Dying Wish

Article excerpt

Byline: Austin King

IT WAS hard to obtain justice when the priest of Neerkol Orphanage, Father John Anderson, was friends with the State Children's Department inspector, a Mr Paterson.

That's what former resident David Owen alleged in yesterday's Royal Commission hearing into child sex abuse at Neerkol Orphanage.

But justice, and a promise made to his mother Catherine Pearl Owen, was finally served when David Owen told his story.

Catherine gave birth to David at Kidston in north Queensland. She was just 13 years of age.

The commission heard a police officer of the town, who David knew only as Constable 3322, raped his mother when she was 12.

It was Catherine's job each week to attend the Kidston Police Station to collect Constable 3322's dirty laundry and take it back to her grandmother's wash house.

David's maternal grandmother and her partner agreed that Catherine would live with them. However, Catherine's father Billy Owen made an application for David to be placed in state care without the consent or knowledge of his mother.

Eventually he was moved to Neerkol Orphanage by train, in January 1939, when he was five months old.

He lived there until January 1954. He was discharged from the state's care in July 1956. When he was released, he was sent to work on a couple of farms.

Later in life he found his mother in Newcastle, New South Wales. He moved there and got to know his mother, who died in October 1993. On her death bed, she made David promise he would pursue justice for the suffering he endured at Neerkol.

David said he regularly suffered physical abuse from nuns and others who were residents at the institution.

This included beatings with instruments such as the cat-of-nine-tails, stock whips, machine belts, bamboo canes, belts, straps, lantana branches and fists. …

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