I had spent eighteen months in Rangeview Remand Centre before it turned into a prison for boys between eighteen and twenty-one years of age. I held up the Canning Bridge train station kiosk with a mate. We took a taxi to Bull Creek train station and robbed the kiosk there, too, and then got the train to Murdoch, and that’s when the cops boarded the train.
I was sixteen years old, and it was my second time in juvie.
At about fourteen and a half years old, I started hanging around in the city and with a crew called the Perth Hatchet Crew. Everyone in the city knew me back then. I was basically just stealing food and fighting, and I stole a moped (scooter) a few times. There was one time when I was caught because I tried to avoid a booze bus. I didn’t realise it was a booze bus until I got real close, so I tried to go down an alleyway but stacked the moped and got caught. I was put on remand for two and a half weeks before they gave me surety bail.
My first punishment was Community Service, which is where the court gives you hours to complete work in the community—like cleaning up graffiti or picking up rubbish—and you have to be on your best behaviour.
My first time in juvie was for Assault, Disorderly Conduct and Street Drinking. Mission Australia’s On Track used to pick me up all the time but wouldn’t put me in hostels because I was committing crimes. A lot of the times, I would have to stay overnight in the Perth Police Station and then go to court the next morning.
The second time [in juvie] was because I was trying to get into a fight. I was homeless, and I figured if I did a crime, then I could stay in juvie. I wasn’t a ward of the state, but I left home when I was fourteen because our mum chose her partner over us kids. I was stabbed in the belly whilst in juvie for that charge. I accidentally picked up something that wasn’t mine, and one of the girls lost the plot. We had a fight, and she stabbed me in the belly with a fork. I was taken to Royal Perth Hospital by two guards, got a few stitches and I was back at Rangeview. Then I was given supervised bail. I was good and behaved myself until the minute it ended, and then I ran amok again.
The last time I served time was for stealing a blue Nissan Skyline and having a high-speed chase. I had just wanted to go for a drive. I was young and dumb. They gave me six months, and then I got out on supervised bail under my sister’s care twenty-four hours a day. I had to report two times a week, complete regular urine tests and my curfew was 7 pm to 7 am. When I got done for the stolen car, the police tried to pressure me into admitting to other stolen cars in the area when they were questioning me. I did a long time that time around. I breached my bail when I was eighteen and was sent to Bandyup Women's Prison, which was scarier and certainly not a holiday. Juvenile detention was a vacation with people your own age—you played basketball and board games, and you were released from your cell for free time. I didn’t really enjoy jail, but I got used to it.
Detention was like a holiday camp. I was on the streets at the time, so the more I went to jail, the more I could survive. I needed a way to find accommodation, and crime was my way. I had two or three fights in juvie.
The staff were really good in juvie. Some of them were really harsh, but most of them respected us. If we gave them attitude, they gave it right back to us. After a while, the staff got used to me, and we became buddies. Old friends.
You had no choice but to go to school or downstairs in the back, which is isolation. If you argued about it, they put you in isolation until school was over. There were job options like gardening and helping out with chores. I was earning $50 a week because I was working in the laundry. The canteen sold bottles of Coke, chocolate, noodles—basic shit, really. You could hire out a PlayStation but only if you were a sentenced inmate.
Juvie tried to change your behaviour. If you stuffed up, you lost your privileges like your TV. If you made another mistake, you lost your canteen privileges. It does your head in a while, especially after you lose the TV. What are you going to do in lockup?
I worked really strongly with Passages Youth Centre and the Step One bus. They were a great support network. One time, the youth workers saw me get arrested across the road, so they came over to see if I was okay. They tried to encourage me not to do the wrong thing, but I wasn’t listening at the time. I had a youth worker eleven years ago whom I relied on heaps. She used to call me after hours because she understood what I was going through and even visited me in jail twice a week. She was my only visitor in jail for the eighteen months I did. She was breaking the rules by seeing me after hours and giving me money, though.
Police need to do a youth work course because they don’t understand young people or what it’s like to live on the streets. They need to see what we go through when we do a crime, kind of understand why we do it. When I did a crime, it was because I was homeless, but some of the cops were nice whilst others stuck by the book too much.
I was on the streets for two and a half years. I’ve since joined the Show and haven’t committed another crime—clean for years! I now drive trucks for the Show, which is like a side alley with games you can play for money.
I never see my parents. Mum wouldn’t give us anything from the canteen when we were in school, so we would steal it. She was basically a tight arse. I basically don’t class my mum as a mum, and I have never met my dad. Now my bosses are mum and dad, and I see my blood sister a lot.
I want to one day be a chef, and I am eventually going to go to TAFE, but at the moment, I am enjoying the Show. I get accommodation and even get paid for it. I’ve even seen all of Western Australia, and it started with my boss paying for my truck licence. I met him when I was at Rangeview and Bandyup. When I was in Bandyup, the boss visited me, and on the second visit, he said he would help me get out of jail if I helped him. I took that as an opportunity, and the boss was my surety. Now I’ve been on tour for four years on and off, and I’ve got the family I never had.