This was the website of Australian human rights activist and social commentator Mr Lewis Blayse (born Lewin Blazevich), who blogged here mainly in 2013. Lewis was born on 10 December (a date also celebrated internationally as International Human Rights Day) in 1949 in Australia, one year after Australia became an original signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Lewis died overnight on the 31st of January / 1st of February 2014 at his home in Benarkin, in Queensland, Australia. At the end of this page is Lewis’s own description of what he was hoping to achieve with this site.
Lewis was aligned with no organisation or political party, although he was briefly a member of the Australian Labor Party, which he left in the 1970s after involvement in Federal and State Australian politics, and he also founded and ran the support group called Formerly In Children’s Homes in the early 1990s before disbanding it in preference for independent advocacy and activism on behalf of the rights of the child and the adult survivor of child abuse.
Lewis was inspired to start this blog upon hearing the 2012 announcement of the planned Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. His youngest child, Julia (1988 to 2022), had blogged anonymously for the benefit of other survivors of internet child sexual abusers and child sexual abuse some years earlier while still a child, and when Lewis learned of her efforts and the greater ability of blogging to reach readers than print media or even email, he was convinced of the benefits of blogging.
Lewis was the youngest of four children born to Mr Stoyan Blazevich from the former Yugoslavia, who arrived in Australia in Tully in far north Queensland in the 1940s, and Mrs Jane Blazevich, an Australian who married Stoyan in the 1940s. Lewis was briefly engaged to the daughter of an immigrant in Tully who he said died shortly before his marriage to Mrs Sylvia Blayse, with whom he had three children before they separated in 1996.
Image above: Lewis with his third and youngest child, Julia, 1988.
Image above: Lewis in the late 2000s at home, a few years before his death, pictured here with his pet chihuahua, Cactus Flower of the Desert
To learn more about Lewis Blayse / Lewin Blazevich, see here. After Lewis’s death, his eldest child Aletha ran a public campaign for justice for survivors like Lewis of Australian Salvation Army Children’s Homes and their families, which was not successful and had to be discontinued due to intense family pressure to stop, including a serious physical assault upon a relative and threat of harm to Lewis’s pet (and unsuccessful attempts to obtain Queensland Police help to deal with the problem) and the threat by a representative (who later received a financial settlement from the Salvation Army) of a large family group to mount a public smear campaign against Lewis if Aletha continued her public advocacy. Attempts to reach an acceptable legal settlement for abuses suffered by Lewis at the hands of various organisations such as the Salvation Army and the Anglican Church with the assistance of Ellis Legal Institutional Abuse Lawyers were similarly bitterly unsuccessful; in 2015, Lewis’s wife Sylvia accepted small offers of compensation from the Salvation Army and the Anglican Church on behalf of Lewis’s estate, of which which the Salvation Army and Ellis Legal had helped her become administrator. Aletha’s hopes in 2019 to reignite a campaign for justice for survivors in a different fashion from her 2014/2015 efforts was thwarted by her unsuccessful attempts to garner legal, family, therapeutic, or friend support and she conceded defeat in 2020.
Lewis didn’t enable comments on his blog and in the interests of returning this blog to near to its original form when Lewis died, earlier comments have been deleted and it’s no longer possible to comment on this site. You are welcome and indeed encouraged, however, to comment upon any post you read but please be aware that you’d need to reblog or share the post elsewhere and comment where you share (see sharing widgets at the bottom of each post). Also in the interests of returning this site to as near as possible to its original form when Lewis died, the links page which Aletha added has been deleted. The major exception is that a Site Directory has been added (readers can also use the search box on the site to look for posts on particular subjects).
In December 2017, the same year and month as the Royal Commission handed down its final report, Australia ratified The Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT), which, in the opinion of this site’s administrator anyway, had the potential to allow independent and specialist observers from the United Nations to help Australia in its efforts to prevent abuses of children not only in well-known places of detention such as juvenile justice centres (e.g., Don Dale), asylum processing centres, watch houses, disability centres, and children’s / adolescent psychiatric hospitals and wards, but potentially also places in which young people are held even for short periods of time such as schools or other facilities. In early 2023, however, the United Nations’ torture committee cancelled its planned visit to Australia after lack of cooperation with inspections by some state governments here (and, this site’s administrator notes, apparent unwillingness by the Australian federal government to force state cooperation through exercise of its constitutional powers), making it uncertain now the extent to which external international scrutiny might serve as a check against the kinds of abuses of children examined by the Royal Commission or indeed against abuses of people in places of detention in which some adult survivors of child abuse may end up (e.g., psychiatric hospitals). Australia’s most prominent child abuse activists and advocacy organisations have been eerily silent about these latest developments.
When you read Lewis’s description below, you will see that a key objective he had in blogging here was that, “it’s important not to have the issue hijacked by vested interests who’d prefer the issue was obscured.” One difficulty Lewis perceived in this respect was that the Royal Commission was occurring in a country and in an era in which media concentration was (and still is) very high and in which press freedom was sometimes compromised by this and other problems. Activists like Lewis have relied heavily upon a free press to raise community awareness of the kinds of problems they seek to address, but have sometimes been stonewalled in these attempts. It was Lewis’s hope to throw some light on this issue of media independence in this blog for the benefit of other activists who might be struggling to understand their inability to get the help of the Fourth Estate in bring public interest attention to severe abuses of children and adult survivors of child abuse.
Lewis was not affiliated or associated in any way with the Lewin Blazevich Foundation or any of its associated persons past or present, nor is this site or its administrator. He was not associated with any organised religion or other similar self help group (e.g., Freemasons, Rosecrucians) or activist or other similar group (e.g., Bravehearts, BlueKnot) and neither is this site. Neither this site or its administrator is affiliated or associated with the Julia Blayse Gallery or any of its associated persons (including promoter Mrs Sylvia Blayse). Neither this site or its administrator is affiliated or associated with Blue Ribbon Physiotherapy or Allied Aged Care (AAC Health Group) or its CEO Mr Alwyn Blayse or Joanne Schoenwald / Josephine Moon or the Australian or other branches of the Tunley / Joy, Edser, Blazevich / Blaze, St Baker, Cosgrove / Vagus, Bull, Chalmers, Pecoraro, Schoenwald, Deane, Tucker, Barnes, or Stedman-Gomes, clans or members or any political party, association, charity, or religious or other organisation. Views expressed in posts are those of Lewis Blayse.
——- Aletha Blayse, Sydney, Australia, 24 February 2023
I was born Lewin Blazevich in 1949, in Tully, in far north Queensland, Australia, and changed my name by deed poll to Lewis Blayse later in life. I spent most of the first 12 years of my life in and out of 9 children’s homes in Queensland, Australia, from the age of a few months to the age of 12. I have not received RESTORATIVE JUSTICE from a single one of the organisations responsible for these homes.
I was sitting in a laboratory at the University of Queensland late one night when I was 23 and a PhD candidate in neuro-biochemistry. I had been using a specialised radioactive labelled chemical in my experiments. That chemical was only produced in a British chemical reactor twice a year. The chemical decays very quickly, and is useless after about three days. Consequently, to get the maximum benefit from this expensive chemical, I was working through the night on the experiments. That night, as I was looking out the laboratory window as dawn broke, I made the decision to change my life’s main focus from science to bringing to society’s attention the issue of the Homes. For some time leading up to this night, I had been experiencing increasingly vivid, violent, and disturbing flashbacks and nightmares from my nearly twelve years in the Homes, these flashbacks and nightmares beginning with my visit to the Indooroopilly Boys Home (run by the Salvation Army) to offer voluntary tutoring services to the boys there. I had rapidly realised to my shock that nothing much had changed since I was there until the age of 12. Incidental to my research in neuro-biochemistry, I had come into contact with a prominent psychiatric researcher who was concerned that my flashbacks and nightmares were suppressed memories that were surfacing despite having repressed them for more than ten years. He told me that the flashbacks and nightmares would only get worse with time if I did not find some way to tackle them. I took his advice seriously and made the decision to make the change from scientist to Homes activist. I cancelled my scholarship (Commonwealth Research Award) and resigned my then position as President of the University of Queensland Student Union (motivated also in part by being a bit ‘done’ with the often petty machinations of student politics).
I decided to build on what I had learned through student politics (I was the former President of the Science Students’ Association and President of the Postgraduate Students’ Association before becoming President of the University of Queensland Student Union) to try to enter the political arena to get something done about the Homes. I was asked by the then Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Clem Jones, to be his electoral assistant and to join the Australian Labor Party (ALP). I contested the 1975 federal dismissal elections as an ALP candidate for the Brisbane seat of Moreton in an unwinnable seat against the prominent politician Jim Killen. This was to cut my teeth and get experience for subsequent elections. At the following federal election in 1978, I was unopposed and given total support by the local ALP branch members for a new, winnable seat. After nominations had closed, my endorsement was overruled by the ALP State Executive and given to someone else who subsequently disastrously lost the election. I had been telling anyone who would listen, in no uncertain terms, that my only motivation to enter politics was to do something about child abuse in children’s homes. Unfortunately, I believe this triggered behind-the-scenes attacks by the two then most prominent Queensland politicians in the ALP, former leader Keith Wright and his deputy, Bill D’Arcy, both of whom were subsequently sentenced to lengthy prison terms for sexual assaults on children. Realising that the path I had chosen was effectively blocked, I resigned from the ALP and decided to find another way to achieve my goals.
On advice from professionals and academics in the psychological and psychiatric fields, I accepted their conclusion that if I started direct public action at the age I was, I would just appear as another ‘angry young man’ and that I would be best to wait until I had the maturity of middle age to start the campaign. I was also advised that I probably would not be able to even begin thinking too much about my childhood experiences until I was older and better able to cope with the emotions that such thought would evoke. The day I turned 40, I started the campaign. I began by establishing a support and activist group called Formerly in Children’s Homes (‘FICH’). Australian milestones that have occurred since that time included the 1999 Forde Enquiry in Queensland (view the associated Ministerial Statement here), the 2004 Forgotten Australians Enquiry by the Australian Senate, the 2009 Apology to Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants, and the 2013 Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse Royal Commission. Following the Forde Enquiry, I was burned out, and went quiet for a number of years, with the exception of being interviewed for a 2003 Four Corners program about the Homes (‘Homies‘). Now in my 60s, I have decided to put in one last effort with this blog because I have learned from experience that it’s important not to have the issue hijacked by vested interests who’d prefer the issue was obscured.
This blog comprises daily posts with commentary and analysis of the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and associated matters.
Lewis Blayse (né Lewin Blazevich)