Child abuse survivor: ‘He was obsessed with me'
A SYDNEY child abuse survivor who gave evidence at the Royal Commission into related incidents says he's not yet sure if it was worth the personal cost.
Dean Muller, 44, was subjected to years of sexual abuse by a St Marys Band Club official from the time he was 14 until he was 18 years old.
It wasn't until last year that he reported the incidents to police. The alleged offender was charged and the case went to court. But according to Mr Muller, the judge ruled there wasn't enough physical evidence to convict the man, and he was set free.
Mr Muller was one of 8000 survivors of child sex abuse survivors who provided testimonies to the Royal Commission into Institution Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which delivered its final 17-volume report and 189 recommendations on Friday, following a wide-ranging investigation.
While the country's longest-running inquiry might be now over, the memories of what brought many of the survivors of child abuse to testify, continue to haunt them.
"He was obsessed with me ... he would touch me," Mr Muller told news.com.au on Friday.
"I remember him saying he was just seeing if he was that way inclined."
Mr Muller cried as he recalled the "constant" assaults as a young drummer in the band. The elite group travelled to perform internationally it was on those occasions the official would ensure Mr Muller was "billeted with him".
"I went for days without sleep in Indonesia because I was too frightened to sleep because I knew what he would do at night time," he said.
Mr Muller said the alleged offender would "pin (him) down" then sexually assault him. But it "wasn't a one-off thing" and would also take place at home.
"He used to follow me home from school," Mr Muller said. "Sometimes I'd hide in the bush.
"Even when I left school in Year 10 and started my apprenticeship, he would wait outside my work and follow me home."
According to Mr Muller, the man was much bigger, and terrified him. "He would say he could destroy my drumming career," he said.
"It was very standoverish.
"He knew I was too frightened to say anything to anybody."
The father-of-two said he "lost everything" after last year reporting the historical sex abuse he experienced at the hands of the band official.
"I don't think anybody knows what happens to the survivors after they come forward, not even the Royal Commission," he said.
Mr Muller said the strain caused his marriage to break down and created a domino effect which then saw him lose his house, children and job.
"I had to have time off work to go to court and then work dismissed me," he said. "Everyone claims they care about the child abuse survivors but no one really did anything to help when I told my story and everything came crashing down."
The professional drummer also found it difficult to continue his music career. "I had a career in drumming ... at a world level ... these days I cant even pick up a pair of sticks," he said.
Mr Muller, a welder by trade, said he was slowly trying to get back on his feet but that it was unlikely he'd ever be the same again. He currently lives in a granny flat out the back of his parents' place in western Sydney and is picking up regular welding work.
Shine Lawyers national abuse law manager Lisa Flynn told news.com.au Muller's story was "not an individual tragedy".
"It's a national one," Ms Flynn said.
"I've dealt with hundreds of cases of abuse that showcase the range of attacks and the lack of responsibility across institutions at the time of the abuse."
Ms Flynn said the Commission had given victims a voice. "No person, whether old or young should ever have to go through the torture of abuse and live a life that is forever impacted by this assault on one's freedom," she said.
"No single recommendation or group of recommendations can be expected to achieve total protection of kids across the country. Every safety measure must be considered and, depending on the institution, the relevant recommendations must be legislated to bring a guaranteed improvement to the safety of children."
The final report for the $500 million royal commission concluded there was "no simple explanation for why child sexual abuse has occurred in a multitude of institutions".
"However, we have identified a number of ways in which institutions may, inadvertently or otherwise, enable or create opportunities for abuse," the report read.
The recommendations included the federal government setting up a mechanism to oversee the development and implementation of a national strategy to prevent child sexual abuse.
"This work should be undertaken by the proposed National Office for Child Safety and be included in the National Framework for Child Safety," the report read.
The royal commission, announced by then prime minister Julia Gillard in 2012, held its first public hearing in September 2013 and sat for 444 days in public.
According to the commission, tens of thousands of children were allegedly abused in more than 4000 institutions, but the true number would never be known. It heard from more than 1300 witnesses in public hearings and was contacted by more than 15,000 survivors or their relatives.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the commission had "exposed a national tragedy".