I think it was about age five, I ended up going to live with my aunty due to my dad abusing my mum and us kids. I started smoking weed and started drinking alcohol at high school when I was like 14.
I ended up staying with my sister and at that point in her life, she was a full blown junkie, my mum was a junkie, the whole house was full of junkies and all of that drama and crime and everything that goes with it. No food in the cupboards so I just had to survive.
My mum was a working girl. I remember finding out that she got kidnapped and beaten up for a couple of weeks and I always held that with me because I always wanted to protect my sisters and my mum. Instead of wanting to hurt women and stuff like that, I was always the complete opposite, so at 17 went to this party, seen this guy there and my brother hit this person up, asking if it was him. For whatever reason he said yes and my brother attacked him and I jumped in and attacked him. The victim, he ended up passing away three days later.
I got arrested about a day later, went up to court, got convicted of murder, got sentenced to life with a minimum of 10 years. Ended up jumping in with the gangs, went up to maxi a couple of times, been through all the dramas of the violence in prison and stuff like that.
I thought I was never getting out of jail, ‘cause you get told you can’t do any courses until 10 years, so I was like, oh well, f**k it, what’s the point in being good, in behaving? I’ll just kick it with everyone else here who’s in jail for ages and not really think about getting out.
Just little things changed over time. I was always told to go look for the pro-social people in prison and back then it’s like there’s no one pro-social in here, everyone’s a criminal! That’s not actually the case, there are pro social people in prison, as crazy as that sounds.
I was actively looking for a better life, a life out of prison. And I found the pro social people, started kicking with them and they seemed pretty normal and they seemed like the sort of people I actually wanted to get to know instead of it being forced and sitting there thinking ‘who am I gonna have to beat up today and are we gonna get caught and are we gonna get sent to the pound?’ And I learned as well it’s a lot easier to be positive and happy than be negative and angry and using all that energy on hating someone. So I literally had to change just everything that I’d learnt over a number of years in prison.
The Navigate Initiative sounded like they had heaps going on and I was keen as to get down there ‘cause I found you need to make networks to, not survive, but to help you in life, to get along and move forward. I ended up making it to the Leimon Villas and the Navigate Initiative had everything that Corrections didn’t have that I was looking for, that I knew I needed.
You’re not actually forced to go to any course or meet anyone you don’t want to meet. It’s literally you use your own initiative, which is a great thing. To meet these volunteers that come in, whether it’s relationship advice or like financial skills, the music... it’s all about building those networks for myself, that’s what it’s all about, that’s what I enjoyed, that’s what really helped me, just interacting with more people from the outside world.
I just really want to build the best foundation possible. I feel like I’ve got that second chance at life, something that my victim didn’t have, so I want to make my life worth it.