As I was growing up, I was actually brought up as a state ward. So I was in and out of Social Welfare. That's what they were called at the time.
When I was thirteen... oh, I’ll go back. When I was eleven, I lost my father. But I hadn’t really met him. I hadn’t met my parents. I was in and out of State Care.
My father died when I was 11 years old. And I met my mother when I was 13 years old. I was released to my mother from state care. And when I met my mother, she was a heavy drinker. I had never been exposed to drink before, so my life started there.
At about 13, I started experimenting and my mother would get wasted and leave all the bottles lying around. I would start picking them up and start cleaning up. But I started drinking the leftovers and things like that, at 13, 14. And I got a liking to it.
As I was growing up... and my lifestyle from before, as a child... losing my father, trying to find out who I am... Yeah, that's where it started. I was just right out there with it. Like, night clubbing, going out with friends. That was our social gathering: going to pubs under age.
At that time we were allowed to go into the pubs as long as you had a guardian, to watch over you. So we used to go up to all the old fullas and say “hey, can I come and drink by you and I’ll buy yous a drink, can you say if the police come in that we are with you, that you’re my guardian”. So yeah, I used to get into pubs like that, with my friends and all the cousins that used to take me in. They would say “all good cuz, we will look after you”.
And so yeh, that’s how that all happened for the early part of my life.